Disguised as incense, but better known as “fake pot,” spice has been sold and smoked for almost seven years in the United States now.
Spice is considered to be a kind of synthetic cannabis. It first debuted in Europe as a legal way to get high that many people have compared to the sensation of being high on marijuana.
However, many firefighters and EMTs disagree with the weed comparison.
“[Spice] is a little off of meth, the symptoms, the signs, the chemical structure. It’s more like meth or PCP than anything,” one West Jordan firefighter said.
Not only is the chemical composition of spice eerily similar to that of meth, it also affects you physically in dangerous ways.
“Everyone [who smokes] spice has [a] fast heart rate, anxiety, and panic. Regardless of how much you smoke, you get the shakes,” another West Jordan firefighter said.
This physical description matches the mild symptoms that affect a spice smoker’s body.
Smoking spice can lead to serious and dramatic consequences like physical injuries, suicide, and hospitalization.
“We just had a guy in the ICU for two days after smoking spice,” reported the first firefighter.
Another firefighter recommends that a good way to avoid a visit from them is to not pack so much spice in the pipe and maybe smoke less. The more you smoke, the more anxious and panicked you get.
“Most of the time, they’re really anxious, [but] cooperative… Once there was a guy so big he could throw us around. We gave him meds to calm him down. Meds didn’t do anything to him,” continued the firefighter.
“Doing spice once a week is probably less harmful then inhaling the sucky air in the Salt Lake Valley,” John Davis*, a former spice consumer and seller said.
The illegality of spice is yet to be determined in many places. Only a few cities and counties in the State of Utah have outright banned spice. Layton, Kaysville, Provo, Orem, Ogden, and Providence City are some of the cities that are upholding the spice ban along with Iron and Cache County.
Thanks to the “checkerboard” effect on Utah’s different laws regarding spice, the Controlled Substance Advisory Committee has made it known that they are pushing the legislature to come to a unanimous state wide decision regarding spice.
Recently, the Federal Drug Association banned five substances that are used to create spice. However, that ban is not currently being enforced due to a lawsuit brought by some substance manufacturers that will go out of business from the ban. If the ban is upheld by the courts, it will effectively criminalize spice in Utah without having to wait for legislation to decide on a solution.
Spice smokers want to know what else the government is going to ban since marijuana is still illegal in Utah.
“If Utah was smart they would legalize spice or marijuana because people who still smoke [spice or marijuana] are going to keep smoking one or the other no matter what the government says,” said Davis.
For more information on where spice can and cannot be smoked in Utah can be found at utcourts.gov/lawlibrary/.
* Name has been changed for privacy.