Clovis mothers join forces against synthetic marijuana

By Kevin Baird
CNJ staff writer

A group of concerned Clovis mothers have joined forces to increase awareness about synthetic marijuana.

“We’ve been furious about this stuff,” said Connie Rowland, who is a member of Mothers Against Synthetic Marijuana. “What we need to do is educate kids so they know it’s downright dangerous.”

Rowland, a mother of three and grandmother of seven, said the Portales teens who earlier this month overdosed on synthetic marijuana prompted her to act. Rowland said MASM’s main goals are awareness and education.

Synthetic marijuana, also known as pep or spice, is sold in smoke shops as an herbal potpourri, and is labeled as not for human consumption. It contains chemicals that mimic the effects of THC, which is the chemical in marijuana that produces a high.

Nothing forbids its sale as a potpourri, but law enforcement believes sellers are pushing its usage as a drug.

“During the last 18 months, sheriff’s investigators have executed five search warrants at local smoke-shop businesses,” Curry County Undersheriff Wes Waller said. “Over 100 pounds of synthetic marijuana has been seized and three persons have been arrested for distribution of the illegal substance. Any consumption of this illegal substance would be considered abuse because of its effects and toxic properties,” Waller said.

Clovis Police Capt. Patrick Whitney said in the first nine months of 2013, there have been three reported overdoses and 14 cases involving charges of possession of synthetic marijuana.

Whitney said whether or not spice is a problem is relative.

“We have far more overdose cases on over-the-counter prescription narcotics or sleeping pills than on synthetic cannabinoids or bath salts, by a large margin,” Whitney said.

Steve Reshetar, who is the director of the Matt 25 Hope Center and works with the teen courts, said, “The use of pep or spice seems to be really growing. I’m very concerned about what’s available to our kids to consume. I’d like to see public pressure put on some of these smoke shops that sell items such as pep and spice.”

Rowland, who works as a caretaker, said MASM will create an education program to deliver in schools. She said MASM is also working on a public service announcement to be aired on the radio.

Rowland said MASM is mulling the idea of pushing an ordinance that would ban the sale of synthetic marijuana in Clovis. Rowland said she plans on attending the city commission meeting to bring synthetic marijuana to the attention of city officials.

“The best thing a parent can do is to talk their kids openly and honestly about the negative results of putting harmful chemicals into their body that do not belong there,” Whitney said. “Whether that be the huffing of paint, injecting heroin into their veins, smoking synthetic cannabinoids or sniffing powder cocaine up their nose. The facts are that these drugs can kill you, even the first time trying them and it is just not worth the risk.”