New legislation initiated at the State level by Attorney General Pam Bondi has been signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. The Controlled Substance Bill will add 27 substances to the Schedule 1 of controlled substances, according to Bondi's office, making it a third-degree felony to "sell, manufacture or deliver these dangerous drugs".
For law enforcement officers, this changes prevents the people who are constantly changing formulas used in spice from avoiding the law.
"Essentially, we are chasing a ghost when it comes to this type of chemical," says Santa Rosa Sheriff's Deputy Rich Aloy. "If they change one molecule in a formula for spice that was previously outlawed, it is technically a new substance." Now, the law applies to spice and its derivatives. "This is really going to help us," Aloy says. "Spice targets young people, so it's something we are especially interested in. It helps us and it helps parents."
The typical age range for Spice users is between 14 and 21. He says the first year is critical because the chemicals do so much damage right away, a regular user can have irreparable liver and brain damage within a year.
"I put a chart on our Sheriff's Facebook page for parents, to give them an idea what to look for," he says. "I was told by a physician that Spice goes to the liver first, then the brain. It kills brain cells and does serious damage. People know that server alcohol use can kill you in 30 to 40 years. Spice does the same damage in one year."
Aloy says he was involved in a missing person case after a young man who was in a mental health facility walked away. "I didn't understand why people were so brain damaged so quickly," he notes. "He was alive, breathing, staring at me, but nothing was working. You can absolutely see the damage. You talk to them and they are in another world."
In January, a Santa Rosa County business owner was arrested when deputies arrived at his Pace convenience store, E Z Save, 3901 Diamond St, with a search warrant. Reports say they colorful, sparkly packages containing the substance. Two boxes and seven bags full — were taken out and placed on the counter at the shop. The packages are labeled not for human consumption but sold with smoking devices similar to those used with marijuana. The illegal drugs had an estimated street value of $4,000 to $5,000.
Aloy says Spice is not the only illegal substance affecting younger people.
Molly is a pure form of ecstasy, normally found in powder, crystal or capsule form. Aloy says, "Basically, it makes you crazy - uncontrollable. Videos of Molly users can be found on YouTube."
He says the drug is definitely in Santa Rosa County. "It's out there," he adds. "So far, there are not finding long-term affects. It lasts about a half-hour to 45 minutes."
For more information on spotting if your teen is abusing drugs, go to https://www.facebook.com/santarosasheriff.