Spice, AKA Black Mamba 101

Sep 17 2010 - 2:18pm

At the risk of being a policeman and concerned for the safety of our youth, particularly their youthful indiscretions, I thought I might explain a little bit about this media darling of late and why the Ogden City Council put in place legislation to prohibit it's sale, possession or use in Ogden.

The more scientific name of the products Spice, Black Mamba, K-2, Puff, or Sugar Sticks; Salvia Divindrum or another similar weed, Turnera Diffusa, are weeds indigenous to Mexico. Indigenous also to the native South Americans, in particular, going back to the Aztec culture era.

In this culture the native Americans found, through the ingestion of these weeds via smoking, that there sometimes was a psychoactive reaction to the human body.

Marijuana, a more common weed, has also been one of those psychoactive weeds that was found growing in the United States, thus our citizen's love affair with it. Marijuana has over 400 known chemicals in it. However the users, including those who want medical use of it, are primarily interested in just one of those psychoactive chemicals contained within the THC group of chemicals, cannabinoids. In my opinion, if they truly wanted any of those other 400 chemicals for medical reasons they would create a THC free marijuana, like a decaffeinated coffee.

In any event, because the road to legalized marijuana seemed to be a very, very long journey, our more liberal chemistry engineers, in the name of academic research, set about trying to create a synthetic THC. In the late 1990s a chemist at the University of Clemson did so.

Today, the entrepreneurs of staying one step ahead of legislators have started harvesting these psychoactive weeds from Mexico and spraying or lacing the weed with a chemical compound known most commonly as JWH-018, JWH- any number, or synthetic THC cannabinoid.

They then put the weed in a little jar and sell it at a tobacco or head shop-related store and call it incense, not for human consumption. However they generally sell rolling papers or bongs right next to the display of the Spice labeled compound. It is also not a very good smelling incense by the way.

A number of Utah legislators are looking at addressing this latest end run on getting psychoactive chemicals into the hands of our children.

To that I applaud their attempt to keep up with the drug dealers who want to make a quick buck and not be concerned about the harm this madness or physical injury to our citizens may create.

Greiner is Ogden city's police chief.

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