There is little doubt that synthetic drugs can wreck their users, in some cases worse than their "real" counterparts. Case in point, synthetic marijuana. Health experts nationwide say because of its uncertain make-up and extreme effects users can suffer, it's way worse than the real thing.
That's why we're seeing K-2, Spice and the like banned throughout the country, including here in Lubbock.
The result of synthetic drug use hits home hard for those who see what it can do first-hand. Dusty Charters told us "September 25th, 2012, my son committed suicide after using synthetic marijuana."
Following the death of his 19 year-old son, Jon, Charters knew he had to do something about the legal sale of synthetic drugs in Levelland. He began a petition to ban these substances and got over 1,200 signatures in ten days. Enough to catch the attention of the city. The city began researching the best way to keep these products out of the hands of the public, turning to other cities such as Lubbock to find the best route.
Levelland City Attorney, Richard Husen said, "There has been quite a bit of back and forth conversation, coordinating, not necessarily coordinating, but consulting back and forth between most of the police chiefs and a lot of city attorneys, trying to figure out what's been tried in the past, did it work? No, well what can we do?"
Instead of prosecuting offenders criminally, Levelland is declaring these products a public hazard, which would punish distributors of synthetic drugs in a civil court. Stores will have to remove all synthetic drug products from their shelves this weekend.
Charters said "it's a good start, I'm in no in no way do I think this is going to be the cure." But some are cautious of cities creating ordinances banning so many different chemicals.
Amarillo City Commissioner, Brian Eades, said "because we also don't want to be restricting people's rights and hauling them down to the police station for legal medications such as salvia and for herbs that are used for medications on a natural basis."
Husen argued "the difference between that and this is we really haven't seen any useful uses for this that we would also be impairing."
Husen and Charters agree saving lives is worth the effort. Charters said the best way to prevent more families from being damaged is to spread the word about what synthetic drugs can do.
"I wouldn't wish this on my worse enemy. It's hell. My son was a good kid. He made a bad choice and as far as education, that's what we need to do, educate people so that their kids don't make bad choices" he said.
He asks families who do struggle with synthetic marijuana problems, to do whatever it takes, no matter the cost, to get them help.