Lauderdale County, Miss. Four years ago, synthetic marijuana was outlawed in Mississippi and Alabama, but it continues to grow in popularity.
Dr. Lin Hogan, an advanced substance abuse counselor with Weems Community Mental Health Center, describes smoking synthetic marijuana ,or fake marijuana, as it's often called.
"You never know how it may affect the individual," said Hogan. "It may have a very strong effect. They may end up in the hospital, or dead."
That's because the potency of synthetic marijuana, which is referred to as Spice, K2 and other names, can vary. However, the common thread with it all is that the substance that is sprayed on the herbs to make it causes the drug to be much more powerful than regular marijuana.
"Recent research that I did found that there were six people that died in Clarke County, Ala. That's fairly close to us," Hogan said. "There are incidents of multiple kids dying from this condition."
Costing about $25 per gram, synthetic marijuana comes in shiny packages, and sometimes is marketed as incense.
"The word is that it's a very nauseating type of smell and that it kind of doesn't taste good whenever you do smoke it, so I don't see the value of using it as incense," said Hogan.
Some common side effects of smoking synthetic marijuana include nausea, vomiting, trembling, intense paranoia and aggressive behavior.
"When you have something that causes hypertension, or hypotension, which is low blood pressure, and causes you to basically fall out, and become unconscious, you don't need to be driving," said Hogan. "And now you're in a very serious medical state. That's just like playing Russian Roulette, you never really know when you might get a bad batch."
That's why Hogan says the best thing to do is to avoid the use of synthetic marijuana all together. However, if you are addicted he says you should seek help from a substance abuse professional.
For more information about help that is available for people who suffer from substance abuse or addictions, contact Weems at 601-483-4821.