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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : local September 30, 2014

8/11/2012 12:01:00 AM
County bans synthetic drug sales
Mark Duncan/The Daily CourierPackages of the designer drug Amped are piled on the floor at one of five area shops raided by PANT officers Feb. 24, 2012.
Mark Duncan/The Daily Courier

Packages of the designer drug Amped are piled on the floor at one of five area shops raided by PANT officers Feb. 24, 2012.

Lisa Irish
The Daily Courier

Yavapai County Superior Court Patricia A. Trebesch issued a temporary restraining order late Thursday, designating synthetic drugs - including spice, bath salts, and novelty powders - as a public nuisance and immediately banning the sale of synthetic dangerous drugs in Yavapai County by all known retailers.

Trebesch also scheduled a two-day hearing for the 12 named retailers and property owners for Aug. 16 and 17 at the Verde Valley Superior Courthouse, said Penny Cramer, administrative assistant for the Yavapai County Attorney's Office.

"What is so important is that parents and their children, as well as all community members, understand how dangerous and life-threatening these synthetic drugs are," Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk said. "The drugs are marketed under a variety of harmless sounding names such as 'Potpourri,' 'Herbal Sachets,' 'Glass Cleaner,' and 'Tickle Talc.'"

The Prescott Area Narcotics Task Force recently sent several synthetic drug products being sold in retail stores in Yavapai County to be tested at the DEA labs that were found to contain synthetic cannabinoids similar to those currently banned under federal law, said a DEA special agent in the Phoenix division in her affidavit.

The Yavapai County Attorney's Office sought the emergency injunction with more than 100 affidavits from community members, hospitals, mental health care professionals, law enforcement officers, schools, probation officers, and DEA agents detailing the harm, devastation, effects on the users, and loss of life caused by these drugs, Polk said.

Cottonwood Firefighter/Paramedic Ivan Anderson said in an affidavit he treated a 12-year-old girl in Cottonwood who smoked spice for the first time, had trouble and her friend called 911.

"She complained of numbness in her feet all the way up to her waist," Anderson said. "The girl also had a twitch in her neck, about every 10 seconds her head would twitch the left and she could not control it. It really bothered her that her head would move on its own. It continued to do that while she was being treated in the ER, up until I left, so for at least two hours."

Three weeks ago in Prescott, an individual who was acting bizarrely and twitching involuntarily initially said he hadn't used any drugs but later said he'd used methamphetamine the day before and bath salts that day, Life Line Ambulance Paramedic Michael Connally said in his affidavit.

"When we would try to interact with the individual, he had a difficult time keeping his train of thought and staying focused on the conversation," Connally said. "At times, he would scream out incoherent statements to imaginary individuals."

Retailers sell these synthetic drugs for $10 to $20 in small packets marked "not for human consumption," but users ingest them, Polk said.

Nathan Campbell who lives near a smoke shop in Prescott Valley said he has seen the foil packages the synthetic drugs come in littered around his home and a nearby church, according to an affidavit.

"I have seen what appeared to be young kids leaving the X-Hale Smoke Shop, going behind the neighboring church, and then smoking products purchased from the X-Hale Smoke Shop in the parking lot between the church and Learning Castle Child Care," Campbell said.

The synthetic cathinones in bath salts mimic methamphetamine and act as stimulants and hallucinogens, said Cassandra Prioleau, a drug science specialist, pharmacologist with the Drug Enforcement Administration, in her affidavit.

"Users tell us the effects are far worse than methamphetamine," Polk said. "I can't emphasize enough how perilous and addictive these drugs are."

Since 2010, the consumption and abuse of designer or synthetic drugs has escalated and been a significant problem for the citizens of Yavapai County, said Merilee Fowler, executive director of MATFORCE in an affidavit.

"Multiple people in recovery have stated to me that the availability and legality of synthetic or designer drugs have been a factor in their relapse," Fowler said.

Larry D. Green, chief executive officer of the West Yavapai Guidance Clinic, said his staff has told him that many people actively engaged in treatment for their addiction or behavioral health issues have "fallen from the road to recovery as the result of purchasing synthetic drugs from local retailers."

On one occasion a client, bought synthetic drugs then brought them back to the treatment home for others to share, Green said.

"The retailers that are selling these products are making the job of treatment providers in this community much more difficult, because they are part of the problem not the solution," Green said. "The retailers' actions are causing a strain on already tight resources."

Keith Boesen, director of the University of Arizona's Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, said in Yavapai County they answered two calls about designer drugs in 2010, 13 calls in 2011, and eight in 2012. Seventy four percent of those calls came from emergency rooms, the rest from the person's home or work, Boesen said.

"The ages of the individuals involved in use of these designer drugs for the 23 cases in Yavapai County described above have ranged in age from teenagers to those in their 50s," Boesen said.

According to affidavits from hospital emergency room directors, Yavapai Regional Medical Center treats 10 patients each week under the influence of these synthetic drugs, while the Verde Valley Medical Center's Cottonwood and Sedona campuses are seeing one to two patients each day.

Doctors from both hospitals said users experience paranoia, hallucinations, exhibit aggressive, unpredictable and often violent behavior, and are often aggressive toward the nurses and staff, according to affidavits.

"The effects of these synthetic drugs are similar to other central nervous system stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine, but these synthetic drugs seem to have a greater propensity for violence among the patients using them," said Dr. Kelly A. Robinson, medical director of the emergency departments at the Verde Valley Medical Center's Cottonwood and Sedona campuses.

In some cases, doctors have had to sedate, paralyze, and intubate patients in order to provide medical treatment.

"It is very difficult to treat these patients because of their violent and aggressive behavior towards the ER staff, emergency medical service providers, law enforcement and members of the community," said Dr. Christopher Lampe, of YRMC, in his affidavit. "On multiple occasions, these patients require multiple staff members to try to calm them and sometimes have to physically restrain them."

Patients who have been intubated and admitted to the ICU for further care due to the effects of bath salts have "remained in a state of psychosis for over a week until discharged under the care of an outpatient psychiatric facility," said Misty Sanchez, an emergency department tech at YRMC.

"These drugs are dangerous to the community, because they instill a sense of safety to the user," Sanchez said. "They are absolutely not safe. Not even once."

The synthetic drugs cause dangerously high body temperatures, racing heart rates, high blood pressure, permanent organ damage, and the psychotic effects that often last for days, according to the affidavits.

"From my training and experience as a physician, it appears that the desired euphoric effects from these drugs are short lived where the psychotic effects from these drugs tend to be varied and long," Lampe said. "Based on the literature and my experience, there appears to be a spike in people becoming overwhelmingly depressed or suicidal when using these drugs."

The Arizona Legislature banned the original versions of spice and bath salts in 2011 and 2012, but manufacturers quickly modify the chemical compounds to circumvent the laws, Polk said.

Under the temporary restraining order, the named retailers are banned from selling all adaptations and analogues of the synthetic drugs, Polk said.

Scientists and agents with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency assisted the Yavapai County Attorney's Office in seeking the injunction against the retailers.

Just last month, DEA raided laboratories across the country manufacturing the drugs, including sites in Phoenix.

"This action demonstrates our commitment to keeping our streets safe from these and other new and emerging drugs that have decimated families, ruined lives, and caused havoc in communities across the country," said Doug Coleman, DEA special agent in charge. "Parents and community leaders look to us to help them protect their kids, and we have not let them down. DEA and its law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively pursue those who attempt the manufacture and sale of these dangerous chemicals."

A copy of the temporary restraining order, the complaint, affidavits and other public documents can be found online at www.yavapai.us/coatty/press-releases/court-pleadings-bath-salt-ban/.

If you have information about anyone selling synthetic drugs in Yavapai County, call (928) 771-3344 and ask to speak with Maggie.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Article comment by: A Small Correction

These drugs are the product of a Capitalist enterprise that find ways to get around a very easy corporotist government!

Posted: Monday, August 13, 2012
Article comment by: Citizen Tom

Nice job Polk, looks like your using your resources to fight the good fight, your not going to win everything so lets focus on the worst of the worse, synthetic drugs, bath salts and meth. These are illegal but more importantly they will ruin your life and cause undue strain to the community. So Polk, the big question is.....are you going to use your resources to clean up our stores and get rid of these drugs or are you going to still tie up your resources in trying to stop the legal use of medical marijuana? Synthetic drugs are illegal in Arizona, Medical marijuana is legal in Arizona, lets focus our resources on whats illegal......synthetic drugs.....Meth....Heroin.....Cocaine, if we can clear our community of those drugs your going to see a better community

Posted: Monday, August 13, 2012
Article comment by: It's Not Rocket Science

Drugs aren't bad because they're illegal...
Drugs are illegal because they're bad.

Posted: Monday, August 13, 2012
Article comment by: VA Vet

If you are a Vet like myself and you go to the VA for healthcare you can feel the effect of the local law enforcement as they have been applying pressure to the VA to cut Vets meds and that is exactly what they have done. I have a broken back and have has 7 reconstructive surgery's. I have been on pain medication for years to help cope with the daily pain I endure. I live in pain daily to have my Dr remove me from most all of my pain medication.

It would seam that everyone is a drug abuser. Its one thing to protect out streets from synthetic drugs, but they wont stop there. They are going to ride this one all they way home under the banner of the war on drugs. We no longer have the freedom of client patient. The local law enforcement is now who dictates what is best for my health not my Dr.

Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2012
Article comment by: Great Job

Tony D.Please don't have anymore kids because it's PARENTS like you that don't get it.I feel sorry for your kid and will prayer for him.Tony,Tony,Tony do you see what this stuff is doing.

Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2012
Article comment by: Hlt6345 yd753

These drugs are the product of a liberal enterprise that find ways to get around a very easy liberal government!

Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2012
Article comment by: So the producers

will just make the product in another county and the mules will transport it here. Will cost more but will still be available.

Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2012
Article comment by: Reed Winfrey

Parents please talk to your kids and share with them what happens when they smoke things that shouldn't be smoked. Get involved in their life to the point that you actually know what they are doing at least as much as you really can. If you love your children don't let them live or die on their own with no input from you. You parents are the ones that need to be their guide in life and you are the ones that are setting the example weather you know it or not. I am by no means perfect and yes I made some decisions that I wish I could do over, but was lucky enough that my parenting skills or the grace of God helped keep my kids looking towards their future.
Kids are going to do what kids are going to do. All we can do is be a positive influence and available when they ask questions.

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: Good job Sheila

I've never been a Sheila Polk fan, but I have to say: well done!! This stuff is horrible and it hurts our kids and the entire community. To those who believe that people who use this are idiots who deserve what they get, you need to take into account that the stuff is addictive and, also, that some will steal, burglarize, assault, etc to get $ for the drugs and as a result of their use. Twiddle dee hit it right on the head. While I will not become a fan of Ms Polk over this issue, her courage on this deserves applause.

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: Josh Clarke

The comparison of any drug to alcohol is completely valid. How many people die each year from alcohol? I guarantee it's more than spice and bath salts combined. I'm sick of people not using their brains. If something is legal is it magically harmless? The reason alcohol is legal is ... MONEY! The reason marijuana is illegal is ... MONEY!

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: this is what they want?

FACT 1 These designer drugs are life destroyers when used in large dose- can give users nerve damage. People die from them!

FACT 2 Voters favor MMJ as evidenced by recent prop. voting.

FACT 3 Absolutely, no deaths reported to MMJ use to date.

FACT 4 Lots of people would rather suppress MMJ and see these imitation mmj products savage our community.

What do they gain? ($$$$$)

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: Jim Gingle

These drugs are horrible. I agree that we are fighting the drug war wrong. We should dump money in to prevention and addiction treatment instead of just incarciration, but that doesn't mean we should allow the sale of these drugs. Good job Yavapai. Tony D if your 12 year bought these drugs and went out and killed his girlfriend just because, then you would have a different view of bath salts. If you had to deal with addicts using bath salts you would change your mind. I'm really sorry you aren't very smart Tondy D.


Jim G

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: Jane Doe

I've noticed that those who purchase "spice" are those who actually work, not saying its a good thing. But, I wish marijuana was legal for anyone who chooses to smoke it, instead of having people look to these synthetic drugs.

As for the bath salts, Im really glad that they put a stopping to it. Its hard to feel safe around those are constantly twitching.

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: Concerned Parent

@ Tony D - this is a real problem and a very serious issue for Yavapai County. Why call the people trying to protect your family fools? These drugs change the users brain tissue and cause serious health and social problems, when it doesn't kill you. Kids have died in YC from their use. How can you compare this to skateboarding? Have you even taken the time to educate yourself before posting your silly comment?

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: tweedle dee tweedle dum

THIS IS A GOOD THING!!! Its a good thing to make those synthetics harder to obtain. Most of you dont have first hand experience from knowing a drug addict that corrupts the family do you?? Implimenting a ban is a step in the right direction. What the hell is wrong with you people?? My God you will argue a point just for the mere purpose of entertaining your poor pathetic selves. Skateboard and alcohol analogies? STUPID ignorant fools.You two are as looney as the day is long.

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: Sweet Leaf

If the drug warriors allowed people to be free and use the natural substances God provided such as cannabis, people would not be encouraged to risk ingesting bath salts. Some will use gasoline, paint, glue, and anything else. When the natural choices makes you a criminal, why is it surprising people are using these (formerly legal) dangerous drugs?

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: Tony D

I once took my 12-year-old to the ER after he broke his arm falling off a skateboard. The obvious solution to my son's broken arm is to make skateboarding a crime. I can see it now -- a "skateboard-free America." A "skateboard epidemic." "Skateboards, the soul-robber." Then in ten years or so, Sheila Polk can point to the jails are full of skaters as proof that skateboarding really is dangerous. You people are being played for fools.

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: Dear Defenders

Drug defenders:

What good could come from these products that were banned?

Or are you just against government intrusion...of course then you'd probably want to join the Tea Party.

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: Common Senzi

The cat is now out of the bag.

The Research Chemical Experience has now gone mainstream. Outlawing it is not going to make it magically go away. The laws will force it underground where these chemicals will start to be distributed through the normal black market channels and their availability will come back with a vengance.

This is a direct result of the drug war. Treating drug use as a criminal problem gets us nowhere. 50 years into this war there is no end in site and millions in prison. Drugs are more available than they were when we started.

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: open book

@ More Overtime: Their hospital care has nothing to do with President Obama. President Reagan signed the bill in 1986 that mandates the care - with no way to pay for it.

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: cynthia mangino

I being chemically sensitive from working in the Floral Industry and now having to carry a Epipen because of two unexplained reactions where I almost lost my airway want to try to understand why anyone would subject themselves to a substance that could lead to death. I can't even tell you as a Professional Sales Person how embarrassing it has been to vomit at the gas pump because I am now chemically sensitive. I am so comprimised that I do not know what will trigger a life threating reaction.

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

I don't drink alcoholic beverages but me and my family have to deal with the mayhem caused by their sale in Yavapai county. The County even spends our meager education dollars training people how to produce alcoholic beverages. There can be no question that the social ills of alcoholism far out way the social ills of other imbibed substances. If Patricia A. Trebesch was truly acting in the public's interest than alcohol would have been her first priority.

P.S. Half of your community are non drinkers as many are under age. They also have to deal with drunken mayhem.

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: pv cowboy

More overtime:

It's now Obama's fault these people stay in the hospital for a week?

Sure, each physician call him personally when deciding how to disposition a pt...
Sigh...Everything cannot be traced back to bipartisan politics, and people have had extended hospital stays before the current administration.

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: Rita Stricker

Anyone who actually believes that drug laws are meant to protect the public need only look at how the drug warriors are fighting tooth and nail to keep marijuana illegal. The only excuse they ever had for keeping the only drug that has never killed anyone part of their war is the gateway theory, which was a joke 40 year ago when they invented it and is still a joke. But they still use it. So, if you know (and you DO know) that people lie to you about one drug, why, oh, why, would you believe anything they say about any other?

Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012
Article comment by: Good Job

What took so long

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