Students burst into laughter as they saw the effects of spice, a synthetic form of cannabis, take a toll on a young man in a video shown at a drug awareness presentation Thursday on Eastern New Mexico University’s campus.
His actions may have seemed funny, but ENMU police officer Vyanca Vega said the situation was no laughing matter and the use of the drug could have serious consequences.
Rey Coss, ENMU student body president and a member of Hispanic Affairs, said his organization chose to host a marijuana and spice presentation with ENMU police officials to raise awareness about the dangers of drugs prevalent on campus and in the area.
“Marijuana is the most frequently used illicit drug in the world today,” Vega told students.
Vega said she knows the drug is common among college-aged students and said the plant is often misused.
Euphoria, relaxation, loss of coordination and animated behavior are some of the side effects of marijuana, she said.
Synthetic drugs such as spice pose more of a risk because they are created with unnatural chemicals, according to ENMU police.
ENMU Police Chief Brad Mauldin said spice is becoming increasingly popular on campus and has been prevalent in the Roosevelt County area for the last three to four years.
“It’s basically fake pot,” Vega said. “It’s the most used synthetic cannabinoid.”
The drug is often marketed with its intended use being a form of herbal incense or potpourri. It is often labeled not to be used for human consumption.
Vega said the herbs are sprayed with psychoactive chemicals.
“You’re consuming a synthetic drug, it’s not something in its original state,” she told students.
Vega showed students a video of a young man who had consumed spice. She pointed out that he was animated and had little coordination.
She explained that the drug can effect people differently and in some extreme cases can cause a person to act violent.
“An Iowa teen shot himself after smoking K2 (a street name for spice) with friends in June 2010,” Vega said.
Mauldin shared that he saw a graphic video of a father holding a knife to his 2--year-old daughter’s neck while on the drug.
“For you parents, what delusional state do you have to get into to threaten your child?,” asked Mauldin.
Vega explained that because spice is a newer drug, it falls under the category of a counterfeit substance. She said the first offense of possessing, consuming or selling the drug is a fourth degree felony.
“You’re committing a felony just by having it,” she said.
She also touched on the dangers of bath salts, a synthetic stimulant powder that gained national attention earlier this year when a Florida man ate the face of another man while on the drug.
Vega noted violent behavior and extreme paranoia among other severe side effects.
“He has no control whatsoever,” Vega said, pointing to another video of a man on bath salts. “He’s so dangerous.”
She added that because the drug is relatively new, long-term effects are unknown.
She told students they have the power of choice to not use drugs.
“I learned a lot about synthetic drugs,” said journalism student Eamon Scarbrough. “I didn’t know they were this new, as in the last year, and there are many unknown effects.”