Thanks for your interest in our live chat on synthetic drugs with Rapid City Police Senior Officer Paul Wathen. We will begin the chat in about 20 minutes.
Hi Officer Wathen are you with us?
Great. Thanks for being a part of the chat today. We can go ahead and get started. Could you tell us a little about yourself and your background with the police department?
Hello to those watching. Please submit your comments. We'd really like this to be a great discussion.
I started with the police department August, 2003. Most of that time I have worked in the patrol division and traffic division. Much of my focus has been on DUI/traffic enforcement. I currently am assigned a liaison officer at South Middle School.
I am a DUI/SFST instructor with the department and am currently the only certified DRE (Drug Recognition Expert or evaluator) with the Rapid City Police Department. There are over 30 certified DRE's in South Dakota.
Our goal (DRE's) is to assist with removing impaired drivers from the road by recognizing impairment due to things other than alcohol, such as drug impairment or medical impairment.
What exactly is a synthetic drug and when did the police department start seeing them in western South Dakota?
Because of our training and experience, we also assist with educating officers and the public about these topics, such as prescription drug abuse, synthetic drug abuse, etc...
Carol and Devin have similar questions.
Synthetic drugs are not new. Many drugs are synthetically produced. As far as synthetic designer drugs and the types we are seeing, I started seeing synthetic marijuana about 2-3 years ago. The first time I saw MDPV (bath salts was January 2011.
How prevalent are they in the area?
Synthetic marijuana is a chemical compound that mimics the effects of real marijuana by affecting the same receptors in the brain. It is produced to have different effects on those receptors and can be between 4-100 times more potent than real marijuana.
Because it is so new, the long-term physical and pyschological effects are unknown, but potentially severe.
We have similar questions from Melissa and JR
As of recently, they are very prevalent because of the easy access and the ways the sellers circumvent the laws
When people assume something is legal, they assume it is safe.
Synthetic designer drugs can absolutely be more dangers.
And we have a couple of questions about the side affects.
We have seen many deaths and hospitalizations around the country recently because of the drugs.
Side affects include panic attacks, severe agitation, hallucinations, suicidal tendencies, elevated pulse and blood pressure, to name a few.
Seizures and death can also occur.
You can have flash backs from these drugs, and there are cases where people exhibit side effects well after they stop taking the drug.
If you have used and are still having symptoms, make sure to see a doctor and let them know.
Recently, they have been very easy to get. You can get them off the internet, and many local shops have been selling them.
They are very easy to get and many people use them to pass drug screens.
It is illegal to ingets per our state ingesting law. There is a law going through the senate in our state (SB 23) that will make these drugs a felony to possess.
But they have always been illegal to ingest, no matter what they are marketed as.
Some comments are saying that people are making their own. Have you seen this?
The manufactures use deception to try to market them as things like incense, spice, potpurri, bath salts, etc. to try and circumvent the drug laws.
Yes, people do also make their own. My understanding is, it is not difficult to make.
Thanks for your comments about people using, these are good examples of how dangers these chemicals are.