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Hiding in Plain Sight: Could you recognize synthetic drugs?

11:31 PM, Nov 20, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It is a simple question: If you saw synthetic drugs in your child's room, would you even recognize them? Or would you pass by without a second thought?

With creative packaging, more and more parents aren't seeing what is hiding in plain sight.

K2 -- also known as Spice -- is a synthetic drug that mimics the effects of marijuana, at times on a stronger level. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some users have reported psychotic effects like hallucinations, paranoia and extreme anxiety.

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But despite all that, and efforts to ban it, some versions are still sold at local gas stations. The packages are branded as incense or potpourri and sold in packaging that looks similar to candy

So we put one family to the test here in Jacksonville to check if a mom would spot something like K2 or Spice in her child's room.

"It could be in plain sight and no one would ever notice it," said mother, Bryanetta Humphrey, as she held a packet of K2 in her hand.

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That is the theory we at First Coast News wanted to test. The Humphrey family allowed us into their son's room for an experiment, but we didn't give them any information about what we were testing.

We placed packages of K2 and Spice as well as flavored tobacco around the room along with candy decoys and invited Bryanetta back in. We asked her to pick up anything that looked strange or out of place to her.

She was quick to notice the candy on her son's desk.

"The Sprees ... the shoe polish and the ... oh, it isn't shoe polish it is tobacco," said Bryanetta, holding the first two items she found.

It took a few minutes, but she spotted the Spice we had placed on her son's bookshelf, but she had no idea what it was. She only knew that she didn't recognize it as something that was normally in her son's room.

"Now if I told you these two things were K2 and Spice, had you ever heard of these things before?" I asked her.

"No," she replied.

In the end, she found all 8 things we had placed in her son's room, but was taken back how similar the packaging on the K2 and Spice was to that of candy.

"Most parents if they don't know about that (K2 and Spice) and they saw that, they would just walk away. They wouldn't think it is something bad," said Bryanetta, looking at the K2 and Spice packages.

Even Bryanetta and her husband's son Tim says he has never seen Spice, but if he ever came across it in packages like the ones we found, he would think it was candy.

"It's the colorfulness and the characters on there, but mostly the characters," told Tim.

On the label for K2 and Spice it does say "not for human consumption," which has enabled it to skirt laws on controlled substances. So has substituting different chemicals that are technically legal.

But the effects are intense and K2 and Spice are growing in popularity among teenagers according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

For parents like Bryanetta and Timothy Humphrey, the packaging is just as dangerous as what's inside because to them, it looks so harmless.

"After this experiment, I am going to even be more proactive to make sure I am aware of what is out there," said Bryanetta.

Bryanetta added she believes she was able to find all eight things we had placed in her son's room because she is very familiar with what he keeps in his room and they are strict about what Tim can and cannot have.

But if you ever do see something in your child's room and you don't know what it is, the best advice is to take a minute and look it up because the answer may surprise you.

For more information on Spice, here is a link to the National Institute on Drug Abuse's page:

First Coast News

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