Substance Abuse

Two Des Moines Students Hospitalized After Smoking Synthetic Marijuana

Two teenage boys from East High School were taken to hospital after becoming ill from smoking synthetic marijuana, the Des Moines Register reports.

According to police, one of the students became nauseated in class after reportedly smoking a substance called Red Devil before school while the other student was caught with a similar synthetic product. Both were looking pale and had elevated heart rates when taken to Iowa Lutheran Hospital at about 7:45 a.m. on Feb. 25.

Des Moines Public Schools spokesman Phil Roeder said the two 14-year-old boys have already been discharged from the hospital, but they are facing suspensions for violating the school district’s drug policy. It is believed that the students had legally obtained the synthetic marijuana they smoked at a local store, Roeder noted.

Although the Iowa Legislature has banned certain synthetic marijuana products, some manufacturers are evading the law by slightly altering the chemical makeup of the products.

“They’ll alter their recipe a little so it still has the desired effect but isn’t technically illegal,” said Sgt. Jason Halifax, a Des Moines police spokesman. “The concern then becomes: What the heck is in this stuff? You’re really taking a chance when you smoke this crap.”

Roeder said this isn’t the first time they heard of students getting hospitalized after smoking synthetic marijuana. In the past, multiple students in the district were given medical aid after smoking similar products, which are often advertised as bath salts or incense. He and the rest of school district officials hope the legislature will address the currently available products that skirt the law banning synthetic marijuana.

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