News 12 Special Assignment: Spotlight on Spice

Spice

One local student is spotlighting how dangerous "spice," or synthetic marijuana, can be. (WRDW-TV / April 27, 2012)

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, April 26, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A 14-year-old boy busted for giving drugs to another kid at school says most parents would be shocked to learn what happens in the hallways.

So he wants to tell you. He wants to shine a spotlight on spice.

We are hiding his identity to protect him, but he says it's important for parents know what their kids could be facing on a daily basis. "Drake," as we'll call him, is 14 years old. He's a gifted student who had a clean record until one bad decision got him expelled from school.

"He was like 'I have this stuff. I don't know if you've ever heard of it. It's called spice.' And I just figured it was a different form of marijuana," he said. "We were in the bathroom, and he told me to come into the bathroom and buy it from him, and I was like, 'I'm not sure what this is, but I'll just sell it to someone.'"

It only cost him $3 for a couple of bags. Then, he made his first drug deal.

"It was after lunch, after I gave it to the dude. I was in fifth period, and the assistant principal came, and he was like, 'Bring all your stuff with you,' and he brought me to his, I think, security guard's office."

Drake says he confessed and handed over the rest of the spice.

His mother was shocked when she got the phone call Drake was in trouble.

"My children have had drug education through our family beginning at grammar school," she said.

She taught him about marijuana, crack, cocaine and the rest of the so-called "big ones, " but this was the first time that I'd ever heard anything about spice," she admitted.

She immediately started researching it, and every word that popped up on her computer screen scared her more than the one before. It terrified her "because it could have led to me getting a call that someone else's child was dead after smoking this substance that my son possessed at that time."

Experts compare spice to meth and other hard drugs.

"It's almost like PCP," said Richmond County's Drug Court Coordinator Ted Wiggins.

He has seen a lot of dangerous drugs and the effects it can have on people, but the fake form of marijuana scares him.

"It's a synthetic drug, and it's untested. We don't have a clue what the long-term effect is," he said.

However, experts are learning more every day about the short-term effects. Some include vomiting, heart palpitations, hallucinations, anxiety attacks and even death. Just last month, it killed Chase Burnett in Peachtree City. The 16-year-old was an honor student , active in his church and played soccer.

Wiggins thinks chances are pretty good your child's either used or been around spice as well. When asked how many kids come into contact with it he told News 12 his "educated guess would probably be anywhere from 25 percent to 50 percent."

That's why Drake wanted to warn other kids about how dangerous it can be. His mom says she even contacted his school, begging the principal to send home a note to warn parents it had been found in their child's school. She was told something like that would require board approval and a lot of time.

"I feel that we can't wait for proper procedures in order to inform the public about something that might save their children's life," she said.

Her son got caught, and she says that might have saved his life. She worries other kids might not be so lucky.

Drake says he wants to start some kind of spice awareness program at school next year. He wants to share what he's learned with other kids to help them and to turn getting into trouble into something positive.

His mother also wants to get involved. She says she learned a lot from our interview with her son. When I sat down with Drake, he admitted he'd tried marijuana once as well as another drug (He didn't know the name of it. He says it was just offered to him). His mom didn't know about that, and she has had discussions about drugs with her son. She says it's a good lesson to have the conversation more than once.


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