Synthetic marijuana a tricky foe for parents, cops - FOX 35 News Orlando

Synthetic marijuana a tricky foe for parents, cops

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

The sale of synthetic marijuana is now banned on both sides of the bay -- in Tampa and St. Petersburg.

It seems every other week another Bay Area city or county is taking steps to do the same. State lawmakers have also stepped up on the issue making it a controlled substance and banning dozens of chemical combinations.

So you might think the problem is now under control, but some kids and parents are still locked in a war against an enemy that's highly addictive and always changing.

Missy Peterson never imagined she would be joining forces with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. But the Largo mother is fighting to save her 16-year-old daughter Jesse. That's why she is starring in a public service announcement with Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. That's also why she started Mothers Against Synthetic Pot on Facebook.

"It's making parents aware, not just in Florida, but I was contacted by somebody in Minnesota whose kids were just now smoking it. They are just now finding it in backpacks and bedrooms and they need to know what to do," Missy explained.

A few years ago, Missy had no idea what to do when she found a colorful package in Jesse's backpack.

"We did not even know what it was, this pink 'Scooby Doo' and I finally figured out what it was because she was acting weird."

It marked the beginning of a two-year struggle as her outgoing, athletic, talented daughter got hooked on synthetic pot.

"She has no more sparkle in her eye. The addiction is terrible and makes them mean and nasty.

A few years ago, FOX 13 exposed the dangers of Salvia. Lawmakers took action and banned the herbal substance, end of story. But when it comes to synthetic marijuana, it's not so easy.

"As soon as we identify and ban a certain chemical, they'll change the packaging, the chemicals and it will be right back on the shelf again," stated Sgt. Dan Zsido with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Zsido says it's not called Spice or K2 anymore; the new products have all new names.

"High Life, Chronic, Atomic, 10x's as Strong -- and they represent it as incense, potpourri. But nobody is burning this stuff to make their room smell nice. It's just for one purpose, to ingest it and get high."

Sometimes you can find it on store shelves, but most of the time it's not out in the open these days.

Sgt. Zsido says there's big money in it -- as much as a 300-percent markup for the store selling it.

You won't find a name on the packaging identifying the company who makes it, but on some there's a disclaimer: "NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION."

"It's smoke and mirrors, that's what it is, they are trying to hide behind some sort of disclaimer," Zsido added.

"It's worse than a drug. It's made with toxic chemicals and the combinations change all the time," warns Sheriff Gualtieri in the public service announcement with Missy Peterson.

The spot ends with the pair saying, "You could save a life" -- a message Missy Peterson is desperate to get out.

LINK: https://www.facebook.com/MothersAgainstSyntheticPot

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