Arrest highlights growing area use of dangerous synthetic marijuana

by Emily Waldrep

Synthetic marijuana is not just illegal, it can be dangerous and Woodville Police want the city to know its use will not be tolerated.

On July 24, Officer DeShazo was dispatched to the local Wal-Mart store parking area in reference to reported suspicious activity. DeShazo arrived and located a vehicle matching the description given occupied by two subjects. While talking with the two subjects, DeShazo saw drug paraphernalia inside the vehicle in plain view, which included a greenish, leafy substance in the passenger seat along with rolling papers in the center console. The passenger was identified as Kristian A. Felts, age 18, of Woodville.

According to Woodville Police Captain Mike McCulley, DeShazo asked about the paraphernalia in the vehicle, and asked occupants if any additional would be found if a search were to be conducted. One of the occupants said that he had a prescription medicine bottle belonging to him. A search of the vehicle revealed a brown paper bag containing three baggies of synthetic marijuana hidden between the console and passenger seat near Felts.

Felts was subsequently arrested for Possession of a Controlled Substance penalty group 2-A.
"This type of arrest is becoming more frequent and officers are seeing this substance at various calls to include family disturbances," McCulley said. "This substance has become an alternative to traditional marijuana because of the misconception that it is not illegal or it is not as bad as Marijuana. Truth is, synthetic is more hazardous than Marijuana."

Officers have reported that persons ingesting this substance are more likely to have dramatic mood swings and health issues that require medical attention.

"The obvious problem with the substance is that its intended use was not produced to be ingested, but to be used as an incense or deodorizer," McCulley said. "The chemicals in this substance are changing constantly, and are hard to identify and are regulated to include their intended use only, and not to be ingested."

McCulley reported that after having spoken with medical staff, they confirmed that the patients that use this substance are showing up at emergency room more often in the past several years.

"Medical staff have stated that patients that end up in the ER are ingesting this substance and are observed to have conditions that include high anxiety, blood pressure issues and violent mood swings," McCulley said. "The bottom line is that this stuff is dangerous and should not be ingested. There will also be legal consequences as well."

Criminal charges can begin as misdemeanors but can increase to a Felony very quickly. These substances are found listed in the Texas Health and Safety Code and are treated in the same manner as other narcotics.

"Parents, please be aware of this and don't be fooled by other excuses that young people use to possess this substance," McCulley said.