GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) Synthetic pot has been popular since the early 2000's and even though legislation passed to make it illegal in 2011, teenagers are still finding ways to get their hands on the dangerous drug.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 150 emergency room visits and three deaths as a result of using the drug.
Synthetic pot is an herbal supplement that is laced with chemical compounds. Law officials say because the drug changes so frequently, buyers never know exactly what is in the drug. Some compounds used in synthetic pot are used in cocaine, meth and heroin.
The makers of the drug design it the trigger the same receptors in the brain as marijuana, but the effects are much more intense.
Dr. Mark Breen said doing the drug can lead to hallucinations, paranoia and death and can permanently ruin brain function.
The health effects are not the only things to be worried about.
Deputy Chad Williams, with the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, said being caught with the drug could result in a misdemeanor and community service. If you have prior criminal record, possessing synthetics can land you with a felony and jail time.
Another concern of law enforcement is how easily accessible it is to purchase online. Deputy Williams said there are over 100 websites that will ship the drug to your home in discrete packaging.
A common misconception is that if you do synthetic pot it will not show up in a urine test. However, drug testing agencies have caught on to how popular the drug is and have added synthetics to their testing protocol.
Law enforcement officials are trying to educate teens on the harmful effects of the drug and hope to end this dangerous trend.
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