WILLIAMSON — The Mingo County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD) and the U.S. 119 Drug Task Force just made an arrest last week on John Arnn of 527 Maple Walk in Williamson, for allegedly selling synthetic marijuana. But by the looks of Tuesday’s events, the drug is still on the streets and overdoses from the use of the substance is on the rise. Police officials are on the look-out for the seller of the drug and are confident in knowing they will catch the seller and land him/her behind bars.
The Williamson Police Department (WPD) received five calls yesterday on synthetic marijuana overdoses between the late hours of the afternoon up through the late hours of the evening. Two of the overdoses occurred on Vinson Street, where police were forced to enter the home of a couple that were found non-responsive on the floor. One overdose was called on around 2 p.m. when a female was found laying on the sidewalk near the flood wall at the Marathon gas station in town. Another call came in to the WPD around 7 p.m. that same day where two more females were passed out, also on the sidewalk of the flood wall near the Marathon gas station in town.
According to Sgt. John Hall of the WPD, all five casualties were transported to Williamson Memorial Hospital by numerous emergency services, such as STAT, Appalachian First Response and NetCare. Two of the casualties were discharged and sent home, two were admitted for further medical treatment and information about the fifth casualty is currently unavailable.
What is synthetic marijuana and what are the side effects:
Synthetic marijuana, also referred to as synthetic cannabis, K2, herbal incense, and spice, was developed to be a legal, all-natural replacement for marijuana. It was initially advertised as a special blend of natural herbs, each of which had a minor but real effect. When smoked together, the combined effect was supposed to mimic the effect of natural marijuana. However, laboratory investigations proved that this was not the case. In reality, the effect was not due to the herbs in the mixture but due to the synthetic cannabinoids coated on the herbs.
While marijuana gains its mind-altering effects from a chemical known as THC, the chemical that synthetic marijuana is coated with is completely different. It happens to fit into the same chemical receptors that THC latches onto in the brain, though, so it has a similar effect. However, it also has a number of significant negative effects. It can cause high blood pressure, blurred vision, heart attack, vomiting, seizures, hallucinations, and anxiety.
Synthetic marijuana is not made as a single brand, nor does it make use of just one ingredient. There are a number of different manufacturers who use the same basic approach, but with different chemicals. There are several different chemicals that have been created that can imitate the effects of THC to one degree or another. None of them have been tested on human beings, and none of them can be considered safe. Because of this variety, the health risks of one batch may not be the same as the health risks of another batch, turning use of the drug into a game of Russian roulette.
(Cindy Moore is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. To contact Cindy by phone please call 304-235-4242 ext. 2278 or by email at [email protected].)