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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • State discussing ban of synthetic marijuana

  •   Kids complain about eating school lunch because they don’t like the way the lunch lady looks, but those same kids are willing to smoke a product made by someone they don’t know.  “When you smoke this you really are taking a chance,”?said Scott Gil...
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  •   Over the years, Scott Gilsrud, a chemical dependency counselor for Redwood County Human Services, has seen his share of drugs being abused in his 12 years on the job. Yet, he said, today he is seeing drugs he never dreamt would be part of the local scene, including increased abuse of heroin and crack cocaine. He continues to see people abusing meth, although not at the levels he witnessed a couple of years ago, and he is seeing a significant increase in the use of prescriptions drugs. “There are kids out there taking pills and they don’t even know what they are,” he said, adding people are doctor shopping to find someone who would prescribe what they want. Thankfully, he added, that does not appear to be a problem here. What is starting to be apparent is the use of a new brand of man-made drugs, including one that has been in the news lately – synthetic marijuana. “Kids here are smoking it,”?he said, adding one can find it at just about any head shop (a place where one can purchase items such as drug paraphernalia). The product is typically sold as an incense product under a variety of names, such as K2, Spice and Blaze, and Gilsrud said offer a “warning” about smoking but are called a smokable product. Synthetic marijuana is currently legal in Minnesota, but the state legislature is trying to stop that by introducing legislation that would ban it through a process that would classify it as a Schedule I?drug. One of the challenges, said Gilsrud is the fact that there are hundreds of variations of synthetic marijuana on the market. “It was never meant to be used as a drug,” Gilsrud said, adding the individual who discovered it actually turned it over to the DEA. Gilsrud said one can’t make synthetic marijuana in their basement, like has been done with meth, but added anyone with access to a chemistry lab could easily make it. The reality is many people are making it, which Gilsrud said should raise concerns for those using it. Kids, he said, complain about eating school lunch because they don’t like the way the lunch lady looks, but those same kids are willing to smoke a product made by someone they don’t know.  “When you smoke this you really are taking a chance,”?he said. Synthetic marijuana is not regulated in any manner, which means what is put in the drug is wide open, as is the level of potency. Gilsrud said he is seeing some who are using this drug, but he wondered for every one he sees how many more are out there using it right now. The challenge people like Gilsrud face is the rapid pace at which new things like this are appearing. He said he thinks it is harder for kids today, too, as there just are not the kinds of programs, through schools, churches and communities offered that were there when he was a kid. “We need to give kids something positive to do,”?he said, “because if we don’t they can certainly find the negative things.” The law introduced in the state legislature is still being debated, but is based on language developed by the DEA which is making a similar effort to control the chemicals that when combined make synthetic marijuana.
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