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Published December 15, 2011, 09:10 PM

Synthetic Marijuana Use Spikes in Midwest but Not in Grand Forks

GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) - The most popular place for teens to use synthetic marijuana is in the Midwest. One in nine high school seniors have used the drug in the past year but here in Grand Forks, the use is down.

GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) - The most popular place for teens to use synthetic marijuana is in the Midwest. One in nine high school seniors have used the drug in the past year but here in Grand Forks, the use is down.

Synthetic marijuana, also known as "Spice" and "K2", is illegal in both North Dakota and Minnesota, which many say has made it more difficult for high schoolers to get ahold of.

With synthetic marijuana against the law on both sides of the river, Grand Forks schools haven't dealt with many cases recently.

"It's a lot more difficult to get ahold of is the main reason why we've seen a lot less of it," said Central High School Resource Officer, Troy Vanyo.

"North Dakota made it a felony to possess it, it started dropping off significantly and you really didn't see or hear much about it at all," said Red River High School Principal, Kris Arason.

When it was on the market in Minnesota, police say students would buy "Spice" on their lunch break and then smoke it before heading back to school.

"Bring it back to the school, and then we were made aware of it. I actually issued several citations to students for synthetic marijuana and the paraphernalia," said Vanyo.

The dangerous thing about this drug is that it effects everyone differently.

"Some of them get really angry some of them get really nervous some would be really lethargic with the synthetic materials in that you didn't know what the effect would be on kids," said Arason.

These effects along with the fact that possession of the drug is now a felony, and the price eventually scared students away.

"There's been some pretty well known incidents where people end up in hospitals from the side effects of it so maybe that has an effect to where kids are realizing the dangers of using it," said Vanyo.

"It was also expensive my understanding was that it was 50 bucks, 45-50 bucks for a small container of it," said Arason.

School officials are relieved that it's no longer a problem. They also think through education kids are becoming smarter and staying away from things that can harm their bodies.

Most of the substances that were in synthetic marijuana were things you could find in your cabinets but it was actually the spray that manufacturers were spraying over it that was giving the drug its effect.

Here in North Dakota, possession of the synthetic drug is a felony, while marijuana is only a misdemeanor. In Minnesota both the drug and synthetic drug are a misdemeanor. WDAZ was told the synthetic drug is actually more expensive than marijuana.

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