By Kerri Winick, GalTime.com
The sad sounds of the 911 call made from Demi Moore's home were just released. Now, some disturbing headlines are popping up, including this one that caught my eye: Demi Moore: What Drug Did She Smoke Before 911 Call?
Reports are flowing in that it wasn't marijuana, but a "mysterious substance" that experts believe may have caused her to have a seizure.
Some describe it as incense, or potpourri, but experts have dubbed it "fake marijuana."
It's an alarming trend that I reported on a few years back, although government officials and toxicologists are still extremely concerned today.
Related: Demi Moore Treated for Anorexia, Substance Abuse
Fake marijuana is a mixture of dried herbs that chemists say is sprayed with one or more chemicals, and teens and young adults across the country are smoking it. It's often sold under names like K2, Serenity Now, Spice, Yucatan Fire, and Zohai. These herbal concoctions are widely available and can be found at head shops, bait and tackle shops, gas stations, even on the internet, for about $30-$40 a bag.
"It's legal. And there's an entire trend in our country called legal highs," said Dr. Anthony Scalzo of SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center.
The Drug Enforcement Administration believes the chemicals sprayed on these herbs are similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. And that has agents on high alert. Supervisory Special Agent Gary Boggs with the Drug Enforcement Administration told me that most of these chemicals aren't controlled substances, which means they aren't under the government's regulatory authority. Special Agent Boggs said that fake marijuana should not be smoked, and the fact that people are lighting up is a major health concern.
"There's no labeling on these products to know specifically what's in them and you don't really know what you're putting into your body," said Special Agent Boggs.
Prominent toxicologist Dr. Anthony Scalzo says a growing number of teens, young adults, and even middle-aged men and women are landing in the emergency room after smoking fake marijuana. The substance has spurred more than 4,500 calls to U.S. poison centers between 2010 and April, 2011. Symptoms reported include extreme anxiety, fast, racing heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, even hallucinations and tremors. These reactions are the opposite of what you would expect from marijuana. Now, Dr. Scalzo is working with other researchers.
"We're trying to find out what is in some of the products that we're dealing with. And it could be a contaminant. I mean, we don't know that for sure, but typically these synthetic chemicals should not be causing this kind of reaction," said Dr. Scalzo.
The reaction from parents? Most still don't realize these products are on the market. That concerns doctors, clinicians, and state lawmakers, who are moving quickly to try and get these products banned.
If you believe that a friend or loved one is smoking fake marijuana, be on the lookout for what looks like incense or "oregano," and watch to see if they seem more anxious than normal.
If you have any questions about fake marijuana, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.More from GalTime.com:
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