Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 22, 2017

‘One bad decision’

Seminar warns of the dangers of synthetic drugs
By Xiomara Levsen | May 22, 2013
Washington County Deputy Sheriff and Drug Task Force member Eric Weber shows the audience some examples of synthetic marijuana, which is sold in Iowa City. The sheriff’s department confiscates synthetic marijuana in Washington County every day.

WELLMAN—“’One bad decision can change everything’ is the quote we have on our son’s grave,” said Mike Rozga. “David smoked synthetic marijuana and within an hour he was dead.”
Rozga spoke to an audience at the Parkside Y in Wellman Tuesday night.
Rozga is from Indianola. He said his son was a good kid. He worked at a local grocery store and had just graduated from high school a week before. David went out with a couple of friends to celebrate graduation and Mike never saw his son alive again.
“After smoking the synthetic marijuana he started to hallucinate,” he said. “His friends took him outside and walked him around to try to sober him up. When they thought he was sober enough they let him leave. He told them he was going to come home and take a nap. Instead of taking a nap he came home and shot himself.”
Rozga hadn’t learned what had caused his son to shoot himself until two days later from David’s girlfriend. She had confronted the friends and they told her about smoking the synthetic marijuana.
He told the audience last night three things.
“What’s written on the package doesn’t matter,” he said. “Legal does not mean it’s safe. Do not inhale, do not inject and do not ingest anything.”
Another tip Rozga had for parents is to talk with them about drugs.
“We have to have a dialogue with our kids,” he said. “You can’t risk not having these conversations with them.”
Eric Weber, a Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy and part of the drug task force in southeastern Iowa, said the department has been dealing with synthetic drugs for two years.
“A lot of this stuff is legal right now,” Weber said. “We are seizing it like crazy from kids and adults.”
He said the department sees two types of synthetic drugs. One is plantlike, which is called synthetic marijuana. The other is bath salts, which look like powder drugs, such as methamphetamine and cocaine.
A major problem is the lack of Federal Drug Administration  regulations as to what chemicals are used to produce synthetic marijuana, Weber said. Producers will make a liquid chemical that they spray on plant like substances, which in most cases compares to marijuana.
“You don’t know what you’re getting,” Weber said. “It might be enough to be fatal or it could give you permanent brain damage. That’s a huge risk to take.”
Another problem is how the drugs are marketed. He said he knew of three retailers within 20 minutes  of Wellman, where people could buy the stuff.
Weber showed examples of synthetic marijuana.
“This one is called Scooby Snacks,” Weber said. “It has a picture of Scooby Doo on it.”
Usually, synthetic marijuana is sold at tobacco stores, Weber said. According to state regulations a person must be 18 years old to purchase it. However, Weber has seen kids as young as 15 with the drugs.

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