Saturday, May 12, 2012


Spice – What’s it all about  

They’re called “Spice” and “Bath Salts,” but you won’t find them on the shelves of a supermarket or at the bed-and-bath stores at the mall.    

“They’re synthetic drugs that are endangering our kids,” according to Jesus Montana, the Campus Police Officer at Clairemont High and Marston Middle School.  “While it's not a large epidemic in our Clairemont area schools, cases state-wide are increasing.”

“A lot of people have seen news stories about this issue, but they might not even know what these drugs look like, or how they can affect someone who uses them,” Sheri Easterly with North City Prevention Coalition explained at a recent Town Council meeting.  

“Spice is sometimes called synthetic marijuana, and it looks like dried leaves or potpourri,” said Easterly.  

Synthetic marijuana is sold under many different names, such as K-2, Black Mamba, Bliss, Genie, Legal Pot, and Herbal Incense.  It’s made by soaking or spraying dried plant matter with chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana, according to Easterly.  

“People using this drug might talk loudly and rapidly,” Easterly said.  “Those behaviors are more common shortly after using the drug.  Later on, users might be dazed or sleepy, forgetful, or have a distorted sense of time.”

Other physical signs of Spice use include sweating, uncontrolled div movements, as well as elevated blood pressure and heart rate.  Other symptoms are more serious, and sometimes require medical attention.  

“Spice users might become paranoid, or have seizures.  They might have hallucinations or delusions,” said Easterly.  “What’s more frightening is that nodiv really knows the long-term effects of these drugs.”

“Bath Salts are a fine powdery substance, like, well, bath salts.  Sometimes it’s sold in jars, or in smaller, lip gloss-type containers,” said Easterly.  “They have a stimulant effect.”

Ingesting Bath Salts affects the central nervous system.  Someone who’s under the influence might be fidgety and forgetful, and lose their train of thought in the middle of a conversation.  

The physical effects are similar to other stimulants.  Users might have a rapid heart rate and high blood pressure.  But, like Spice, Bath Salts can also cause serious problems, ranging from hallucinations to nausea to chest pains.  Some deaths have even been attributed to these substances, according to Easterly.  

Spice and Bath Salts are sold in smoke shops, convenience stores, and 99 cent stores.    They’re often labeled “not for human consumption.”

There has been some progress in reducing access to these drugs.

The Drug Enforcement Administration temporarily listed five of the chemicals used in making Spice as Schedule One drugs.  That means it’s a federal offense to sell them.  

“Locally, law enforcement has sent letters to retailers informing them of the law, as well as the dangers of synthetic drugs,” said Easterly.  “It’s getting harder to find Spice on the shelves of local convenience stores.  Some stores keep it behind the counter, and will sell it if you ask for it.”  

As for Bath Salts, the governor signed an emergency measure last October, making it illegal to sell products containing the dangerous chemicals that are the key ingredients.  

While it is illegal to sell Spice or Bath Salts, right now it’s not illegal to possess these drugs in California.  

“There is current legislation in Sacramento to forbid the possession of synthetic drugs but it is having a difficult time passing through Assembly Committee hearings,” said Montana.  “Passing this law would help keep our children out of our hospitals and morgues.”

For more information about Spice and Bath Salts, log on to  or visit PeopleAgainstSpiceSales on Facebook.  


“Spice” is sold under different names, and often comes in brightly-colored packets.

DEA photo

Samples of Spice and Bath Salts that had been purchased in the San Diego Area.  

Courtesy photo

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