Use of drug ‘spice’ on the rise among juveniles and adults



SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Nearly half the juveniles and one-quarter of the

adults arrested in San Diego County last year reported having used the

synthetic drug spice, the San Diego Association of Governments reported today.

SANDAG, the regional planning agency, has been querying juvenile

arrestees about spice use since 2011 and adults since 2012 as part of its

substance abuse monitoring program.


While the 2015 figure for juveniles — 48 percent — is roughly the same

as when the questioning started, the self-reported use of spice among adults

has steadily climbed from 16 percent in 2012 to 24 percent last year, according

to SANDAG data.


Breaking down adult use further, 35 percent of arrestees under 25 had

tried the drug. The portion drops to 15 percent for ages 25-39 and 9 percent

for those 40 and older.


The San Diego City Council last month tentatively voted to ban the

manufacture, possession, distribution or sale of synthetic drugs like spice —

taking the action because of holes in state laws that allow makers to alter

chemical compositions to avoid law enforcement. A second reading is scheduled

for Tuesday.


Chula Vista, El Cajon, Encinitas, Oceanside and the county of San Diego

have taken similar steps.


According to a city of San Diego staff report, emergency medical

personnel responded to 650 cases of medical distress caused by spice between

November and March, around two-thirds in a swath of the city running from

Barrio Logan through downtown to Hillcrest. Downtown and East Village saw about

half the cases.


Investigators viewing surveillance camera footage said they saw several

of the users become incapacitated and unconscious immediately after ingesting

spice, according to the city report. Some began stumbling and had difficulty

standing or walking, and held onto the side of a building, a nearby tree,

newspaper stand or some other sturdy object to prevent falling.

Authorities said emergency medical personnel were sometimes met by

violent responses from spice users too incoherent to realize someone was trying

to help them.


The SANDAG study found that 83 percent of juveniles and 62 percent of

adults who had tried spice did so as an alternative to marijuana, and that 43

percent of juveniles and 38 percent of adults used it to avoid a positive drug


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