LUBBOCK, TX -- It's something we've talked about quite a bit--the dangers of synthetic marijuana and its popularity in Lubbock. Now experts are asking parents to be on the lookout for symptoms of the drug.
We spoke with an emergency room doctor, Lubbock Police and an educator who all say the first line of defense against this drug is education. They want parents to be aware of the dangers and be able to spot use.
"I did presentations where youth and parents were present, all the kids knew what it was, synthetics. Very few parents knew what the drug was," said Carlos Ortiz.
Ortiz is founder of Smokey Cares, an organization that educates parents and kids about the dangers of synthetic marijuana. He is working with city leaders and local law enforcement including Lubbock Police Captain Roger Cox to increase awareness of the drug across the city.
"Synthetic marijuana, one of the problems we have with that is there is no single symptom that we are seeing in all of the synthetics because the chemical compounds are so different and these kids are putting things in their bodies that even we don't know what it is when we do test for it," said Captain Cox.
While there is not one particular symptom of the drug, Emergency Medicine Dr. Christopher Piel says parents should look out for changes in behavior
"Changes in their attitude. Any sort of physical changes like sweating or nervousness, and certainly I mean I would be looking for these little packets. They come in all sorts of names, but they are usually very colorful and they are very small almost like a packet of tea would come in," said Dr. Piel.
Dr. Piel says synthetic pot overdoses are hard to treat because doctors do not know exactly what chemicals the patient has taken.
"Symptoms you've ever noticed that aren't associated with the regular flu or some kind of virus you know something is going on you've got to investigate a little farther to find out what they are taking or what's going on in their life," said Ortiz.
Captian Cox says LPD is going to start an online reporting system for those familiar with the drug to report side effects and where it's being sold.
"We are going to specifically ask for information, where they are purchasing, where the effects were and we will ask that they will give a contact name and number because we do want to eventually speak to those people and be sure to identify the shops that are selling this poison to our community," said Cox.
Ortiz says he is willing to speak with parents about the dangers of the drug. Contact Smokey Cares at 806-787-5152.