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No access to spice has regular users complaining, police say

MANCHESTER — The number of people in Manchester who have overdosed on synthetic marijuana continued to rise over the weekend.

Sgt. Christopher Goodnow said as of 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, another person had overdosed in the previous 24 hours. This brings the total number of reported overdoses in the city to 48 since last Monday — although police said some overdoses could have gone unreported.

Sgt. Brian N. O’Keefe said officers have told him that regular spice users are complaining because they cannot buy the product anywhere in the city. Some are “dope sick,” or experiencing withdrawal symptoms, he said Sunday in an email.

The products were being sold in about 50 convenience stores throughout the city. On Wednesday, the business licenses of three convenience stores were revoked.

According to Goodnow, of the city stores checked by police, the products are no longer being sold or made available to customers. The three stores forced to close are challenging the license revocations.

Last Thursday, Gov. Maggie Hassan declared a state of emergency for New Hampshire in response to overdoses in Manchester and Concord.

A sweet-tasting version of spice called “Smacked!” has been linked to a number of the overdoses. The products are marketed as incense and typically sell for $10 a package. Coated in psychoactive compounds that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, the products are consumed or smoked.

Spice products became illegal in New Hampshire in August 2012. However, they have continued to be sold because the chemical composition of the product is continuously changed by manufacturers to make its sale legal.

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