Just because some types of synthetic drugs are legal, doesn't mean it's safe to use them. (WRDW-TV / June 7, 2012)
News 12 First at Five / Thursday, June 7, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A Lafayette, La., man is accused of biting another man in the face. Police say he came up to the man now married to his ex-wife as he was working in his yard and attacked him.
Assistant Police Chief Kert Thomas explained, "During the attack, the suspect bit a chunk of the victim's face off ... very unusual, it's not something we have every day."
Deputies say the alleged attacker may have been on synthetic drugs, possibly bath salts. That's the same drug investigators say accused Miami cannibal Rudy Eugene took before eating a homeless man's face off over Memorial Day weekend.
All this face-biting, or talk of the zombie apocalypse as people are calling it, is bringing a lot of attention to a dangerous drug. And it's not just bath salts that have investigators worried. They're concerned about synthetic marijuana, or spice, too.
Any synthetic drug has investigators worried because we've now seen what it can make you do, but experts are also concerned because of what it can do to you.
"I am absolutely amazed at what people will do to get high," said Sgt. Allan Rollins with the narcotics division in Richmond County.
He says, these days, getting high is creating a whole new set of lows.
Our local hospitals have reported people using bath salts and spice.
"They said it's something that came across, ' We didn't think it would hurt to do it. Then the second or third time in, we were having seizures,'" Rollins explained.
He's spoken to both paramedics and users of spice about the effect it can have in a short time.
Recent stories all over the country show people are using bath salts to get high, and many simply lose control.
"It is a major medical concern," Rollins said.
But salts aren't the only synthetic drug problem here. Spice is illegal here in Georgia and South Carolina, but with a little tweaking, new versions of this "fake weed" are showing up in stores. And because the new versions are slightly different on a molecular level, they are legal.
"Even though it says not for human consumption, they give it the little wink-wink, nod-nod. They say this is it, it's something different, it's not what the law says you can't have," Rollins explained.
He says legislators are working to include the new spice compounds in laws. Realistically, though, new versions could be released indefinitely, and the law may not be able to keep up.
"As soon as we can get the Legislature to pass it, [dealers and users] will be going to jail," Rollins warned.
News 12 checked in with local smoke shops, and none we found were selling the new versions of spice. One shop had a sign posted, spelling out their position on the drug: "We no longer sell spice."
"You no longer know what's really in it," Rollins said. "We had a system where it was six chemicals. Now, it's 35 pages of chemicals! Now they're going to expand it out, and it may be 70 pages of chemicals. Before it's over with, it could be straight gasoline as far as we know that they've invented."
For dealers, drugs mean money. But for you, the cost could be your life.
"Some of the extremes they will go to, some of the chemicals they will put into their bodies, it never ceases to amaze me," Rollins said.
Experts believe anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of students have seen or used spice at some point. But at this point, experts tell News 12 spice can not be detected in drug tests.