Dangerous new drug leads to overdoses in Tuscaloosa

This week the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force held a press conference to address this growing problem. Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy said that this drug, commonly known as “Spice,” is much more dangerous than regular marijuana.

By Joseph Helean
Contributing Writer

There is a new drug affecting Tuscaloosa County. It is causing many users to go to the hospital or even overdose. It’s billed as a alternative to marijuana, that doesn’t show up on drug tests. However, that does not begin to describe what the effects of this homemade drug can have on its users.

This week the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force held a press conference to address this growing problem. Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy said that this drug, commonly known as “Spice,” is much more dangerous than regular marijuana.

“This is not marijuana ok? Tell the public. Tell your children. That’s not what you’re dealing with here. This is like PCP, a LSD type situation that we’re dealing with. Don’t even think about it or present it in that nature,”  Abernathy said.

Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson said that spice is creating a crisis for public health and safety by continuing to send people to hospitals and using valuable resources to treat the victims of synthetic marijuana.

“In the last few weeks, this has been just like crack… it’s a thing that a lot of people are using. It’s cheap, it’s easily accessible and it’s a very dangerous drug,” said Anderson.

According to officials at DCH Regional Medical Center, between that hospital and DCH Northport, doctors have treated over 20 patients in the last two weeks alone affected by Spice. They have had at least one local death from the drug. Doctors say that one puff of the drug is enough to put someone into a coma or even cause death.

Law enforcement officials said dealers don’t just sell packets of spice with dangerous chemicals mixed in already but will add things like pesticides to try and make the drug more powerful but at the same time make it much more dangerous.

Lyn Head from the Tuscaloosa County District Attorney’s Office said there is no confusion over what these chemicals are intended to do and what they will do to people who ingest them.

“These substances actually contain chemicals that were designed to poison and kill living things and people are consuming them,” Head said.

Despite the known dangers of Spice, it doesn’t seem that use is slowing at all. Officials say that they’ve seized over 70 pounds of Spice in West Alabama during the last year alone.

The problem seems to be growing but law enforcement, health and law officials are appear steadfast in their desire to curb this growing public safety issue.

“We’re all up here together, committed to doing something about this issue because it doesn’t just affect on agency, its affecting our entire city,” said Anderson.