Homeless People Falling Prey to Synthetic Marijuana

Homeless People Falling Prey to Synthetic Marijuana

The use of so-called “synthetic marijuana” is an epidemic that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Since the ingredients in these substances supposedly “mimic” the effects of cannabis it has been tagged with the unfortunate moniker of “synthetic marijuana.” But when you look at the list of effects, you find things like “K2” and “Spice” show very little relation to natural marijuana.

As you can imagine, a drug that is cheap and will let you get by a drug test for a parole or probation officer in many states has found favor among the homeless population in the United States.

From New York City to St. Louis to Austin, Texas to Jackson, MS to Los Angeles, hundreds of homeless people have been “violent, incoherent, sometimes catatonic on the ground," in the words of Austin police Lt. Kurt Thomas.

"You factor in some of the despair or difficult circumstances that these folks are going through, and they often fall prey to the suppliers offering an outlet to deal with their unfortunate situation," Thomas said.

Some of the effects of “synthetic marijuana” are rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, anxiety and hallucinations according to Dr. Anthony Scalzo, director of toxicology for the Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

Since the DEA and many states have been banning specific chemicals that make up things like K2 and Spice, new chemicals are being added all the time. "We have no idea how the body is going to react to the next wave of chemicals," Scalzo said. "It's like Russian roulette. You just don't know what you're getting."

What some people have got is kidney failure, brain damage and death. The chase for a cheap high is nothing new, especially among those who are homeless. Now a new drug has been added to the list of available options.