Pelham Police Department

Fake Weed Wreaks Havoc In New Hampshire

New Hampshire's governor declared a state of emergency after more than 40 overdoses of synthetic marijuana in one week throughout the state.

By Jasmine Bailey | August 17, 2014

Spice, potpourri, synthetic marijuana – it goes by multiple nicknames, but it's all essentially the same thing — fake pot. It's sprayed with THC-like chemicals to get the user high and because it's marketed as incense, it's easy for kids to get it. 

And ingesting the fake pot is responsible for more than 40 overdoses in New Hampshire just in the past week.

"Help me up."

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah."

*Screams*

REPORTER: "Hallucinations, blackouts and cardiovascular distress. All side affects of spice, a synthetic marijuana so dangerous New Hampshire governor Maggie Hassan has declared public health emergency."

In a statement New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan said, "These products pose a serious threat to public health, especially to young people, and it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to combat the recent rash of overdoses. ... I have declared a State of Emergency so that we can move quickly to stop the sale of this dangerous substance that has caused an outbreak of serious overdoses."

The state of emergency comes after a six month investigation into the drug and a store owner who sold it. A 17-year-old smoked the drug which was bought from that particular store and had to be hospitalized.     

Pelham, New Hampshire police then arrested the store owner, Christopher Matte. He was then charged with two counts felony sale of drugs.    

According to Boston.com, local police had asked Matte to put a hiatus on the sale of the drug, which can be smoked or brewed into a tea, while they conducted the investigation. 

But local police say Matte continued to sale the substance — hiding it behind the counter and using code names. 

After he was busted by an undercover officer, the store was raided. More than 100 bags were found along with about $7,000 in cash.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes, "Because the chemicals used in Spice have a high potential for abuse and no medical benefit, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has designated the five active chemicals most frequently found in Spice as Schedule I controlled substances, making it illegal to sell, buy, or possess them."

But producers of the faux marijuana find easy ways to get around the legal issues — avoid those five chemicals. 

"The problem is there's so many different brands of it and each brand varies in what they put in it, so it's hard to regulate." 

New Hampshire is one of the few states without an all out ban on the substance but officials are trying to find a way to change that. As of now, the governor has asked stores to voluntarily remove it from their shelves.    

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