Spice drug may be back on the streets in new liquid form

Synthetic marijuana, known on the street as “spice,” may have taken yet another form. The drug has been evolving ever since it was banned in Hawaii three years ago, according to authorities.

Each year, the State’s Chief Special Agent for Narcotics Enforcement works with state lawmakers to add new forms of the synthetic pot to its list of illegal drugs. But when law enforcement officers move in, they find that the drug has suddenly taken on a new form.

“The hard thing we’re finding is that we’re going in and buying it and it’s not illegal, it’s a new substance,” said Chief Special Agent Keith Kamita. “They keep changing the formula.”

KHON2 may have found yet another new form — one that has been found in several states on the mainland and may have worked its way to Hawaii. The 2-mL bottle of liquid in question was sold in a Honolulu shop for use with electronic cigarettes.

The worker behind the counter said he was previously selling the liquid for $30 a bottle, but it became so popular that he now sells it for $50. While he wouldn’t call it synthetic pot, he said it would give the user “a buzz.”

KHON2 alerted state Sen. Josh Green, chair of the Senate health committee, who is also an emergency room doctor in Kona, about the possible new form of spice. Sen. Green said “the chemists are savvy. They stay a half-step ahead of us and we change the formulary and we put people behind bars,” but he admitted that “what we really need to do is increase the penalties.”

An Oahu woman who wants to keep her identity a secret said her frustration may be coming to an end. Her husband is finally willing to seek help after being addicted to synthetic marijuana for a year.

She spoke with KHON2 wanting to share this message: “I hope at least it will prevent people from trying it and people who are doing it right now will see that its affecting families. If they’re addicted, they should get help, because this stuff is dangerous.”

KHON2 also alerted Kamita to the possible new form of spice. He said it may be a marijuana extract or an extract of a spice drug. The bottle will be submitted to him for testing.

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