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Everybody has an opinion about synthetic drugs and their effects on our community. While their legality is still in a grey area, they continue to be sold and people continue to line up to buy them. Some are concerned that once the supply runs out crime will spike and addicts will go looking for a harder buzz. Some say it’s their constitutional right to buy the drugs. And also a right to sell them within legal boundaries. When the Reader decided to focus on the incense epidemic I knew just the person to talk to. Below is a conversation with a friend who was addicted to synthetic marijuana for years. Here are his thoughts on the matter:
Reader: How was your experience with incense? Do you regret it?
W: Do I regret it? No. But only because i’m somebody who naturally likes to learn from his decisions whether bad or good. I don’t want that to be a part of my life anymore. But I do consider myself one of the lucky ones. As somebody whose had a variety of addictions, synthetic drugs were without a doubt the hardest addiction to ever shake. Incense to me came about as result of curiosity after being a weed smoker for years. And within days of my first bag of incense I knew that I would be going back for another bag. Pretty soon I’m back every two days and I realize it’s been months since I’ve smoked weed. When I would smoke weed it would have no effect on me.
Reader: Do you think synthetic marijuana should be legal? Do you think it ever will be?
W: Synthetic drug proprietors have a very valid point when they say that alcohol is legal yet it kills X amount of people every year and that marijuana should be legalized. But they are still poisoning their customers, every single day, with every single purchase, no matter how good their point is or how much they say “this wouldn’t be an issue if weed was just legal.” They still have to live with the fact that their customers are succumbing to very adverse health related issues that aren’t related to marijuana. People don’t smoke marijuana and have seizures. No one’s heart stops from one more bowl of weed.
Reader: Is synthetic marijuana more akin to actual marijuana or maybe closer to meth? Is the name misleading?
W: The only thing marijuana-like about incense is the fact that it’s smoked the way one would smoke weed. The effects of the drug itself are far more comparable to a bad acid trip or one too many bumps of cocaine. Another thing that’s misleading about synthetic marijuana is that one assuming that they will proportionately ingest the same amount as they would with weed. A one hitter of incense has more power than a joint of actual marijuana. Whereas weed takes anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to kick in, incense hits you once you exhale the drug. You’re hearing starts to alter. Your heart begins to race. The panic and the euphoria simultaneously set in.
Reader: Did you ever feel violent, aggressive or embody a characteristic that wasn’t you while smoking incense?
W: I would say roughly 60% or 70% of the time I was under the influence I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown. I’ve never felt my heart race or pound as fast or as heavy as it did on this. In the later months before I decided to quit I would get a pain in my chest and there were times that I felt I was going to suffer a psychotic episode. I’ve personally never felt that I wanted to punch my way through a wall, but i’m not an aggressive person. It’s easy for me to understand how somebody who is more prone to being violent could easily snap on these drugs.
Reader: Did you notice any psychological difference in yourself as the chemical composition of the drug changed?
W: Absolutely. Keep in mind I started this addiction process months and months before lines would extend outside the door. I was buying Ocean Breeze, which contained JWH-018, the original legal alternative and I rode that transition all the way to No Name incense. With each change in the chemical compound I felt the effects more severely. By the end of my addiction it was 50/50, I’d take a few hits and then throw the bag out because I felt like I could die. But then I’d go down there the next day and wait in line.
Reader: How did your life change while you were addicted?
W: In the grand scheme of things, my life was not devastatingly impacted. But it has changed my viewpoint on many drug related issues that I once so ignorantly touted. As to be expected I became much less outgoing, much more isolated and definitely felt the need to, not just the desire, to constantly have it in my life. It’s the lives of those who I introduced the drug to that still concerns me to this day.
Reader: Why was it so alluring for you?
W: What makes synthetic marijuana so appealing for me, other than the instantaneous chemical reaction in my brain, other than the fact that, short of acid, I’ve never done anything this intense, it is almost unrealistically inexpensive. The average 1/2 eighth of weed is $25 or $30, whereas I could walk into my local head shop and buy the drug, the pipe, the lighter and the cigarettes to chase it all down with for $15. Combine that with the fact that I could go to virtually any restaurant, any bar or any movie theatre and smoke it in the bathroom without anyone being any the wiser, and you have the ingredients for something that you’ll want to take wherever you go.