Image copyright Getty Images Image caption At least five students have died in the northern suburbs of LA from the drug in the past three months
Controversial new drugs have killed at least five people in the US state of California, and officials have warned parents to keep an eye out for the most deadly of the new psychoactive substances, commonly known as drugs.
It is believed to be the first case of overdose related to ‘spice’, manufactured as incense, peppermint, lollipops and dried herbs, according to news reports.
The State University of New York said it had sent out a warning email warning students about the dangerous drug.
Dr Michelle Deradji, of the university’s College of Health Sciences in New York City, said it was still unknown how Spice came to the college.
She said the substance had previously surfaced on college campuses in California, New York and New Jersey.
“We need to protect our kids against the adverse side effects that sometimes go with this kind of drug, as well as the increased risk of addiction,” Dr Deradji told CNN .
Image copyright Snapchat Image caption The drug is being sold in vape shops under the name ‘K-2’, according to recent reports
The drug has left up to 500,000 people worldwide dead in the past two decades, but never before as much attention in America, with lawmakers holding hearings on its spread.
Last month, Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein and Ed Markey called on the US government to stop the sale of products containing Spice as a control measure.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Congresswoman Debbie Dingell wants evidence on the ways in which the product is being traded
Ms Feinstein described the drug as “deadly” and said: “The manufacturers of these drugs are marketing the products as food items and requesting tax exemptions.”
A teacher at Randall Manor Middle School in El Monte, which has high concentrations of students from middle-class families, told CNN how students were regularly inhaling the drug, adding that the emergency room doctor at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center treated 40 students for emergency room trips related to Spice in the last few weeks.
The product is being sold on platforms like Snapchat and in vape shops under the name K-2.
It is sprayed onto dried plant material and is often mixed with potent chemicals to create high-quality hallucinogenic effects, according to CNN .
In response to the calls to stop selling the products, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said that internet platforms like Facebook and Twitter should step up to prohibit the sale of the products.
“There should be no place for these dangerous fake drugs, regardless of the profit that some people have made,” Senator Grassley said.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The drug is sprayed onto dried plant material and is often mixed with potent chemicals to create high-quality hallucinogenic effects
The American Academy of Paediatrics has warned parents to be on the look out for Spice.
Spice has been linked to death in Britain, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. But there are no definitive diagnoses for the deaths, including whether they were accidental or deliberate.
And last week, US health officials announced that more than 120 students in New Jersey had been prescribed opioid medications after taking a new generation of dangerous, hand-rolled packages that contains “spice”.
There is no federal law requiring online pharmacies to name suppliers, including sites such as New York’s Kik, which has declined to do so.
As a result, users are often left in the dark about which product they are getting, and the effects it has on them.