CBS 7 Special Report: Synthetics Uncovered Part 1 10/31/12
CBS 7 News Reporter
October 31, 2012
ODESSA, TX – Synthetic marijuana users say these powerful human made narcotics have turned their lives upside down and these drugs are easy to get, regardless of how old you are.
It looks, smells and is smoked just like the real thing. Synthetic marijuana comes in small packages and carries powerful side effects. Users say it's highly addictive and it's the drug of choice to stay off of drug testing radars.
"Before the time I was in the youth center, I had a friend that did it and that's when I started. But I didn't really do it that much. But when I got out, that's when it came to me that it's legal and that it don't [sic] come out on a drug test. So I’m gonna go ahead and start," said an Odessa synthetic drug user.
Synthetic marijuana users say they buy it right here in west Texas, but not on the streets. The drugs are sold over the counter at many local smoke shops, adult bookstores and even convenience stores.
Many ingredients in synthetic marijuana have been banded by the federal government. But chemists continue to find a loop hole by changing chemical compounds, making the drug legal.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the side effects can be stronger than those of real marijuana. They say some cases include psychotic fits like extreme anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations.
In many cases minors are walking into an "18 and older" store, buying the synthetic marijuana and no one is checking their ID.
"It says 18 and older, you must have I.D. before entering. But that's just what they put," said the current user.
He and his mother asked to disguised his identity, because he is only 13. He says he’s addicted to synthetic marijuana. It’s a problem his mother says has tormented their family, pushing her to take action to get these drugs out of her son's hands.
"I told them that if he ever went back in the store to please not sell it to him, to ask him to leave. And if I found out he was able to purchase those items, I told them that I was going to take it another step higher. I was gonna go to the police or do whatever I had to, to stop them from selling it to him,” said the mother of the 13-year-old user.
This family has been changed by synthetic drugs. It's a downward spiral that's very familiar to former user Tanis Harrelson.
"I couldn't hold a job because I was so angry and whenever I wasn't using it I just didn't care… I didn't want to keep on using it,” said Harrelson.
The-22-year old was addicted to synthetic marijuana for months. He says he was never asked to show his I.D. when he entered local shops.
“It’s one of those things that says you have to be 18 or older to enter the shop. I think people just assume that … kids aren't going to come in, just because of the sign. They should know better. But it’s just its people being ignorant," stated Harrelson."I don't want these kids that are having to buy these drugs and making it still available…I don't want that life for them."
Users say it's a dangerous trend and a dangerous life style. The availability of this drug is growing across the basin.
In Synthetics Uncovered Part 2, tomorrow night we go undercover in these shops. We’ll show you how easy it is to get this drug, ask law enforcement what they're doing to stop it and have an in-depth look into the laws related to that.