South Mississippi spice usage: One year later

South Mississippi spice usage: One year later
DEA Agent Terry Davis says they've worked hard to get the drug off the streets, but usage is still too high. (Image Source: WLOX News)
DEA Agent Terry Davis says they've worked hard to get the drug off the streets, but usage is still too high. (Image Source: WLOX News)
Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove says he has not dealt with any spice related deaths so far this year. (Image Source: WLOX News)
Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove says he has not dealt with any spice related deaths so far this year. (Image Source: WLOX News)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Spice overdoses in South Mississippi appear to be in a downward trend. Spring of 2015, South Mississippi was facing a crisis when it came to spice related overdoses.

"We led the nation over that time frame over a month long period," said Terry Davis, who is a special agent in charge at the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Local hospitals were reporting multiple emergency room visits per day. Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove says his office even dealt with several spice related deaths.

"I think there were roughly almost 1,300 calls involving synthetic cannabinoids or synthetic marijuana. That number has fallen drastically," said Davis.

Davis says over the past year, they have worked tirelessly to get spice off the streets.

"We've done a really good job of trying to tamper down synthetic drug use, not only here in South Mississippi, but across the state as a whole. DEA, along with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, has done a lot to lead the enforcement of that effort," said Davis.

In spite of their efforts, Davis says spice usage is still a problem.

"We still see it far too much and you can go right down the road to Gulfport Memorial and they will tell you, no, we still get persons coming into our ER that have been exposed or overexposed to synthetic cannabinoids," said Davis.

Gulfport Memorial reports 15 cases of spice related symptoms in February of 2016, but none in the past three months. Davis is happy about the decrease in reported overdoses, but says they're still working to get the incredibly dangerous drug off the street.

"We know we can't arrest our way out of the problem, that's why we want to call on the local community. Parents, faith based groups, substance abuse organizations, everybody has to be in this fight," said Davis.

Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove says his office has dealt with zero spice related deaths so far this year.

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.