Law enforcement leaders in Mobile County are calling spice use an “epidemic.” It’s a problem Fox10 News has been tracking for more than three years. A problem that escalated Tuesday night when Mobile Police announced it is investigating two deaths possibly related to spice use.
Wednesday afternoon, several local agencies called a joint news conference to discuss synthetic marijuana. The Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, Mobile Police Department, Mobile Fire-Rescue, Mobile United Public Safety Committee, Mobile County Health Department, Drug Education Council, and the Mobile County District Attorney’s office were all involved.
Their message is clear, they plan on cracking down on spice dealers and users.
“Nothing good will come from putting illegal substance into your body. Spice will kill you,” said Assistant District Attorney Deborah Tillman. “We are very, very serious about prosecuting these cases.”
Interim Mobile Fire-Rescue Chief Randy Smith said his department is sending out ambulances left and right. According to the chief, they are responding to calls of people deep in hallucinogenic rages.
“We have gone from two runs in the previous month of March to 25 responses in the last 17 days,” said Smith.
Mobile County’s Health Officer also spoke at the event. Dr. Bernard Eichold believes some of the recent cases may be related to the school schedule.
“This may coincide with spring break and people young people seeking recreational drugs because they are not in school right now,” said Dr. Eichold
And while law enforcement officials are calling the uptick in cases an epidemic, Dr. Eichold is not prepared to use that term.
“The statistics that we have looked at for the past two weeks don’t show it as a major increase in the numbers. I think what we had is an increase in adverse impacts. So maybe what we have is a different product. Someone has made something different that is having a greater impact on health and well being,” said Dr. Eichold.
Epidemic or not, Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran says the problem is real.
“It’s still coming in its very plentiful and you can see and the intentions behind it are bad,” said Sheriff Cochran.
Just hours before Wednesday’s news conference, the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office confiscated 489 packages of spice from a dealer pulled over on Interstate-10. The drugs have an estimated street value of $14,670.