Gainesville Smoke Shop Raided After Drug Makes 28 People Sick
GAINESVILLE - A growing number of people have suffered seizures due to a drug called spice in the last couple of days. Almost 30 people have been hospitalized in Alachua County now. Law enforcement raided the shop where the drug was being sold this weekend.
Members of the Gainesville-Alachua county drug task force obtained a search warrant, to go into this smoke shop near North Main Street in Gainesville. During the raid officers were notified that Emergency Medical Services were responding to another seizure patient that had smoked spice.
"I had no idea when I first started using spice that it was so addictive," said Rob Rodriguez a Gainesville resident. Several pounds of spice, a shotgun and approximately two thousand dollars in cash were seized from this smoke shop, Land B4 Time. Packaging materials and approximately 100 pipes were also obtained.
"When they presented it at first, they marketed as if it was a legal form of marijuana," Rodriguez added. He is one of the people that recently bought a gram of spice-- a type of synthetic marijuana here. He says this experience was different from anything else he'd tried before.
"It did have an adverse effect on me the first couple of tokes i took. It made me feel very light headed and I did vomit," Rodriguez said.
Paul Doering with the College of Pharmacy at the University of Florida said, "I suspect that in this case there was either a very potent combination of this herbal material with this synthetic drug or it's a new compound that gives effects on the human body quite different than what the buyer intended."
Doering says whether these drugs are legal or not they can be very dangerous since one doesn't know the strength of the product. "There is no FDA that certifies the purity of these chemicals. There is no standard dosing and there is no standard active ingredient in these products," Doering added.
"You wake up one day and you uncontrollably want it and you're going crazy, you're losing your mind," Rodriguez recalls.
While searching the business, officers were notified that Emergency Medical Services was responding to another patient suffering a seizure from the drug. Officers later learned that patient purchased the spice from right here, Land B4 Time; making him the 28th spice related patient treated at UF Health Shands Emergency Room.
There were two employees and four customers in the store during the raid and approximately 15 customers came to the business during the first half hour police were on scene.
"Some shrewd chemists are able to just manipulate that molecule, just a little bit. Add a chemical ingredient here or take off a molecule here and guess what? You got a brand new product and that brand new product is not on the books or if it's not on the books then it makes it legal to sell," Doering said.
No arrests were made on-scene but charges are pending.
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