State narcotics officials say a dangerous drug is evolving, and manufacturers are using loopholes to skirt our laws.
It’s called synthetic marijuana or Spice which is illegal in Hawaii and has been around a number of years, but the battle to keep it off our streets continues.
“Kids think of this as, it must be safe they are selling this at the store,” said Keith Kamita, Chief of the State’s Narcotics Enforcement Division.
But don’t let the colorful packages fool you. They contain a drug known as Spice or synthetic marijuana.
“We are still seeing an influx coming into Hawaii and what we are finding is that they are taking the same packaging and they are adding new drugs to it,” said Kamita.
“They” are the manufacturers, who always seem to be one step ahead.
“Even though Hawaii is way more advanced than any other states, because we outlawed the family of drugs, they keep coming out with Frankenstein versions,” said Kamita. “So they take a substance that was illegal last week, add an isomer, a molecule onto it and now it is not illegal and now we are playing catch up.”
Why cant the companies be shut down? “One of the issues we have is that in some states this is not illegal,” said Kamita. “In Hawaii it is, so they make it in another state and ship it out.”
Recently a large shipment was found being sent through the mail. It was sent from California and the case is under investigation. Kamita says if the person is found who shipped the drugs, they will be serving jail time.
As for side effects, they can be very bad. “We have had cases on the mainland where they tore and basically ate a dog,” said Kamita. “Tore at a persons face and flesh, so it is a spooky drug because of the hallucinogenic effects.”
Spice is also popular with places that drug test their employees because most of the time it wont show up on a drug test. It is also hard to detect if it’s shipped here in the mail.
“If this was in a bag or box coming to Hawaii technically it does not smell like marijuana and dogs may not smell it,” said Kamita.
The constant changing of ingredients in the drug also brings up major concerns.
“We have had some people complaining about not feeling their legs, some have a hard time breathing, so it depends on the individual,” said Kamita. “Some people can take it and nothing happens, but you may be the unfortunate one who has the bad reaction.”
Kamita says there have been no deaths in Hawaii because of synthetic marijuana, but there have been people taken to the emergency room with severe side effects.