More Kids Using "Spice" to Get High

spice drug

A bag of "spice" as it's sold in shops.

Two articles I came across this week pointed to the fact that kids are using spice to get a buzz.   And by spice, I mean both natural spices like nutmeg – and a synthetic chemical known on the street – and in shops where it’s legally sold – as “spice.”

Nutmeg is described as “poisonous” by The Epicentre’s Encyclopedia of Spices, and no doubt it is the poisonous effects of the fruit pit that kids are confusing with a high.  According to The Epicentre, “Nutmeg’s flavour and fragrance come from oil of myristica, containing myristicin, a poisonous narcotic.  Myristicin can cause hallucinations, vomiting, epileptic symptoms and large dosages can cause death.  These effects will not be induced, however, even with generous culinary usage.”

Washington D.C.’s WUSA recently interviewed a young man identified as Alex who has tried nutmeg numerous times describes his experience as “disgusting” and “definitely not worth it.”  A similar cautionary tale, published by an anonymous user back in 2001, is here.   Written by a woman old enough to be part of the “work-a-day world,” she details her “Nutmeg Trip” as follows:

Nutmeg intoxication did not seem euphoric in any way or pleasing to me.  This may be why nutmeg remains legal and why few people, given alternatives to nutmeg, choose nutmeg anyway as a recreational drug.  The nutmeg high resembled flu rather than a marijuana high as others have claimed.  I felt no pleasant sensations from this drug whatsoever.  Feelings of unease and nervousness dominated.  I felt very eager to return to normal so that I could go to sleep.  Nutmeg interrupted my ability to sleep.

I have to admit, prior to stumbling across WUSA’s coverage, I’d never heard of using nutmeg to get high, but I’m not surprised kids have tried it – and likely anything else they can get their hands on at home.  (As a teen, some friends and I once doused a rolled-up newspaper in WD-40, lit it on fire and tried to smoke it.  Brilliant.  I guess that’s not what our teachers meant by their suggestion we ingest more news.)

Unlike Bill Clinton, I won’t say I’ve never inhaled, but it’s been well over a decade since I’ve even thought about using any type of mind-altering substance.  It comes as no surprise to me, then, that I hadn’t been tipped off to the fact that kids might be smoking “spice.”  (If you’re a parent reading this post, you’re likely in the same boat.)  So let me tell you: “spice” is a “man-made synthetic chemical, glazed onto things like dried leaves or saw dust, then smoked to induce a marijuana-like high,” The Baltimore Sun reports.  Convenience stores in York County, VA are said to sell “spice” as incense, “with the packaging quick to tell users the product is ‘not designed for human consumption’.”

The Baltimore Sun notes, “Spice was designed by Clemson University graduate students in a class project to… mimic marijuana.”  Also known as JWH-018, “spice” is considered “a drug of concern” by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to USA Today, “Nearly a dozen states and several cities are banning or debating bans” on spice, also sold as K2 (pictured).  Spice is said to cause “a rapid heart rate, dangerously high blood pressure and sometimes hallucinations or paranoia.”  John Huffman, the chemistry professor who supervised the Clemson University grad students who synthesized JWH-018 in his lab, says simply, “It shouldn’t be out there.”

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