It began with the quick snick of a lighter, a flame drawn into a small amount of innocent looking herbs and an inhale that led thick white fingers of poisonous smoke pouring into the lungs of a young man filled with promise.
And in that one moment, youth quickly fled replaced by an addiction so strong it nearly ruined one life, destroyed a family and severed life-long relationships.
“It took just that one first hit and I was hooked,” said the now 23-year-old, who, for the purposes of anonymity to protect both himself and his family, will be identified as “James,” which is not his real name.
What James smoked that fateful day is what is commonly referred to as The Spice, Potpourri or Incense and it can be bought legally in stores across the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Spice “refers to a wide variety of herbal mixtures that produce experiences similar to marijuana and that are marketed as ‘safe,’ legal alternatives to that drug.”
The products are sold at gas stations, tobacco stores and other retail outfits under many names, including K2, fake weed, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, Moon Rocks and others. They are labeled “not
for human consumption.” The products contain dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives that are responsible for intense mind-altering effects.
While little medical or scientific data is available as to the short or long term effects on the human brain, the substance is filled with chemicals suspected to be toxic, containing heavy metal residues and increasing amounts of toxic additives that constantly change in order to evade being labeled as a narcotic by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
For James, the effects need no data to prove how dangerous Spice is. The proof is in the complete downward spiral his life took since that first inhale.
-To read the full story, pick up a copy of the November 6 issue of the Northern Neck News, on stands now!