It looks like pot, smells like pot, and many people say it smokes like pot. The product that's been dubbed "legal marijuana" has been banned by the military and several European countries. But for people in South Mississippi, getting spice is as easy as walking into a store.More >>
JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Blame it on my love for singing, my short-lived dreams to become president, my general appreciation of fresh air, or perhaps my pseudo-health nut mother. For whatever reason, I have never smoked anything in my life, from cigarettes to pot, to everything in between. That's probably why I found my latest story on spice so fascinating.
Spice is basically a type of incense that many people smoke to get a pot-like high (even though it's boldly labeled "not for human consumption"). A friend tipped me off to the stuff. That friend told me an employee at a doctor's office had casually recommended spice as a relatively safe (and legal) pot alternative.
Imagine my surprise when every single spice salesman I spoke to refused to do an interview. There's nothing illegal about selling any brand of spice, so why was it shrouded in secrecy? I guess the problem is that what happens to the product after it leaves the store is out of their hands. They also seemed to accept that people were smoking it, despite signs in their stores that warned against consuming the product.
I really wish one of them had come forward because they made some points that I would have liked to include in my story. One salesman told me spice had become too popular to eradicate. He said making the substance illegal would only pass it off to drug dealers, allowing the substance to slip unregulated into the hands of children. He said he preferred the idea of restricting the sale of the substance, somewhat like we restrict the sale of other potentially dangerous substances like alcohol or cigarettes.
Dr. Andrew Marsh from Singing River Hospital's emergency room and Lt. Curtis Spiers, Commander of the Jackson County Narcotics Task Force painted a different picture. They shared with me the flood of physical problems they've seen recently from teenagers who smoke spice, thinking it's safe. Some of those teens had ended up in the hospital multiple times. They thought if the substance were illegal, teenagers would think twice before they put it into their systems. If the substance were made illegal, Spiers and his team could also take an active role in keeping it out of the hands of children.
While I think there's room for debate on the issue, I certainly hope we can all see that something needs to be done about this substance. As for me, I'll just read the labels. Since virtually every spice packet says "not for human consumption," I won't consume it.