scary 'spice' Student tells of horrifying bad trip after eating sweets laced with toxic drug spice
Cannabis activists warn the drug is being targeted at young people who are seeking a THC high
Cannabis oils and sweets spiked with harmful 'spice' are being sold to unsuspecting users.
The banned synthetic drug is being packaged as an e-liquid or gummy sweets from US companies which sell legitimate products.
Cannabis activist Barry Brown says the fake products are being aimed at younger customers who want to try THC, the chemical which causes a high.
He believes dealers are offloading old stock of spice, which became popular in the noughties as a legal high alternative to cannabis.
The pandemic restrictions have sent more customers online in search of genuine cannabis products in vape oil or sweets, which can be consumed without tobacco.
Instead, they're getting products laced with spice, a lab-made drug which can cause serious side effects, including breathing difficulties, palpitations, panic attacks, psychosis and addiction.
Earlier this month Newcastle City Council in England issued a warning after the deaths of three young people in 24 hours were linked to a toxic batch of spice.
Omagh student Sean, who asked Sunday World not to reveal his full identity, says he had a horrifying experience recently after taking gummies which purported to be from a reputable Californian cannabis company.
The 20-year-old was looking for a gentle high but got two hours of terror which he has no doubt was caused by spice. "The gummies were little rings covered in sugar and the packaging said they came from a company in California," says Sean.
"With THC when you take gummies you wait half an hour and start feeling relaxed and tired and a bit giggly and that would be the height of it.
"With these gummies I went to a friend's house and took two of them sitting on the sofa and then I started to feel it. I started getting hotter and hotter until the sweat was dripping off me and I started to feel my heart rate go up. I could feel my pulse in my head.
"I had to go to the bathroom and try control my breathing. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. It went on for about two hours.
"I genuinely didn't think I was going to leave that house alive. I thought I was going out of there in a body bag.
"Afterwards I had a really bad headache and I was pouring water into myself."
He says friends have had similar experiences using vape oil spiked with spice, which has been sold as THC oil.
Some have even experienced withdrawal symptoms.
"THC oil is usually clear or a light green. This was coloured but sold as THC oil. One young guy took a couple of drags of it and did this strange thing where he stood on his tiptoes to try and stay up and stay conscious.
"The same day my friend tried it and he couldn't speak to tell us what was wrong. He couldn't get the words out.
"I'm used to smoking so I'm used to being stoned but if you weren't this would completely freak you out. If you took enough of it, you would hallucinate. It would make you have thoughts you wouldn't want to have.
"I've also seen people vaping oil thinking it was THC and then getting really bad withdrawal symptoms, which means it's spice."
The student says some users have become so wary of being sold fake cannabis products they're buying spice testing kits.
"When spice first started coming out people took it to see what it was like, and then realised how dangerous it was," he says.
Barry Brown, a cannabis activist, CBD business owner and leader of the Drug Law Reform Party, believes the spiked products are being aimed at younger users.
He says spice came into existence to get around the laws on cannabis, but users now have to be wary of taking it accidentally.
"A drug that was designed to bypass the law ending up doing more damage than all the rest of illegal drugs put together," says Barry.
"It's seems aimed at the younger generation marketed on the back of THC, which it's not.
"The older people have got wise to it and steer clear as it's just too much, mentally and physically. I know of hardened drug users who won't go near the stuff.
"Even cannabis consumers have to ask, 'is that actually cannabis?' before consuming with somebody they don't know well, because of the danger it's spice they are smoking."
He says the fake products being sold as legitimate THC are probably old supplies which couldn't be sold after the serious side effects of spice became widely known.
"Normally only about nine per cent of drug consumers end up problematic, 34 per cent for alcohol. I can safely say 99 per cent of spice users end up problematic," says Barry.
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