Keene parents to voice concerns over synthetic drug dangers
KEENE - A group of concerned parents is leading the charge against the sale of synthetic marijuana, and they will bring their fight to a meeting of the City Council tonight at 7 in City Hall.
The conversation began on Facebook when a mother asked for advice about a child addicted to synthetic marijuana, said Kimberley Diemond of Marlborough.
Diemond is the mother of a teenage daughter who has friends who have become addicted to these drugs.
"My daughter's friend had a seizure when she smoked it. She was told it was natural marijuana," Diemond said. "I haven't dealt with it through my daughter personally, but she has been exposed to it through her friends. And she knows people who have become addicted to it."
Parents who have dealt with synthetic marijuana addiction plan to speak about the issue at the meeting, Diemond said. She emphasized that people don't have to be Keene residents to attend or speak since this issue is affecting the greater Keene area.
She said shop owners get away with selling drugs packaged in small plastic bags and branded with names such as "Spice." Many are also labeled as herbal incense. "It's marked not for human consumption," Diemond said.
"The tiny packets of herbal incense sell for $25, so it doesn't make sense that you would buy this when you can get two sticks of incense for $2," she said.
The products are far from actual marijuana. "Most people become psychotic, paranoid and very, very violent," Diemond said.
Diemond said she has done her research and is ready to present a proposal for a city ordinance banning synthetic marijuana as well as bath salts, another family of designer drugs that resembles legal bath products but are used to get high.
This is the first step forward for the small group of parents, she said. Joining the parents are other community groups such as the Monadnock Alcohol & Drug Abuse Coalition.
"Groups like ours can help to raise awareness about emerging issues like synthetic marijuana and baths salts," said MADAC member Kate McNally, who is also the program coordinator for the Cheshire Coalition for Tobacco Free Communities at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene.
McNally is hoping to bring hospital data to the meeting to emphasize the sales of such products are a community issue, she said.
"We really want to protect youth and keep our community safe and healthy," McNally said. "What I'm hoping to see out of this is getting the conversation going with our leaders of our community, and if we can have a restriction in the sale of these drugs that are known to cause psychosis in the people that have used them and threatening the health of our kids, that would be a good place to start. The conversation has to start somewhere, and I think this is a great place for it to start."