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Synthetic marijuana becoming bigger issue in South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- “It’s an ambu-bag. Goes on their face,” said Battalion Chief Chris Schmitt with Clay Fire Department.

An ambu-bag could be the first or last resort for anyone with life-threatening side effects after using synthetic drugs.

“The nausea, the vomiting, the anxiety, heart palpitation, hallucinations. Some of the most serious side effects are death,” said Schmitt.

Synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic marijuana, spice – or K-2. It goes by many names and it’s becoming a bigger issue across South Bend especially for the city’s homeless shelters over the last two or three years.

According to representatives with hope ministries, the man-made substance that started off in gas stations and smoke shops across the country, never really left after being banned in Indiana back in 2015 and is causing issues for them and our local first responders.

“There’s no way of knowing what it’s going to do to the person that takes the drug. They keep changing the chemical makeup of the drugs that they’re spraying on these products,” said Schmitt.

New varieties are continuously being made with different ingredients. Ingredients that none of our shelters can detect, and worse, ingredients that Chief Schmitt says, even his medic equipment cannot detect.

“We try to do some investigative work. If we know there’s something new out there, we’ll do a quick search on it and then go to some reputable sites so we get the latest on the medications that we’re dealing with,” said Schmitt.

But during his team’s response time Schmitt says it’s up to their investigative work to be able to track the designer drug.

“We’ll ask them if they have any idea what they’ve taken, we search the area, see if there’s any remnants of a medication that might be about,” said Schmitt.

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