Synthetic pot, ‘Spice,’ skirts law because of changing ingredients, police say

Synthetic pot, ‘Spice,’ skirts law because of changing ingredients, police say »Play Video

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- A driver plowed into a house in Vancouver on Wednesday morning, and police say he was high on Spice, also known as synthetic marijuana.

No one was home at the time but two bedrooms of the house on Southeast Blairmont Drive were destroyed.

Police say the 19-year-old driver was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Officers say the crash is the second Spice-related wreck in Vancouver in the last week, and they worry the law banning the drug may not be effective.

They say synthetic marijuana is essentially still available legally because the ingredients keep changing.

Officer Jeff Starks investigates traffic accidents for the Vancouver Police Department. He says they've been seeing a lot of spice-related crashes. Though he couldn’t provide a lot of hard numbers, Starks says one happened just last week.

“A female drove off the road and hit a utility pole," Starks said.

That woman is all right and so is the man who hit the house on Blairmont Drive, but Starks and other officers are concerned about Spice.

“These people that are making this, they're skirting the law because some of these ingredients were banned,” said Starks, “so they'll leave those out and then they'll add something else."

Starks says manufacturers are changing the ingredients and then often selling their products as potpourri, incense, bath salts or other things that can be legally sold. People smoke the products and the effects can be dangerous, even deadly.

"They may be hallucinating,” said Starks. “They may appear to be under the influence of a similar drug like meth."

State toxicologists in Washington and Oregon say it's very hard to test for spice because it changes so much.

"It could affect people in different ways,” Starks said. “You see really bad decision-making, very erratic driving, speeding. …"

Nationally, spice is the second most popular illicit drug among high school seniors after pot.