Texarkana leaders hold conference addressing synthetic marijuana crisis

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On Wednesday, Texarkana’s most influential leaders gathered to declare a local public health emergency after a rise in local overdoses from synthetic marijuana.

The press conference, held at the Texarkana Texas Police Training Facility, featured prominent figures from both sides of the Twin City. The conference began at 9:45 p.m. with Texarkana Emergency Center and Hospital’s Dr. Matt Young. He stressed the importance of the meeting, and gave some concerning numbers regarding local overdoses. In the span of a week, 7 people had passed away from overdoses and 911 was dispatched to 17 overdose related calls. Texarkana’s medical authorities say the leading cause of these incidents is synthetic marijuana.

Synthetic marijuana goes by a number of street names: K2, spice, bliss, black mamba, and bombay blue, all of these being deadly. While synthetic marijuana may look similar to actual cannabis, the resemblance is the only similarity. Synthetic marijuana is comprised of, as the name suggests, synthetic agents. It is also much more potent and has a number of dangerous side effects. The drug causes a high heart rate and high blood pressure in the victim. This leads to irregular heart rhythms, seizures, and possibly death.

Medical authorities say in recent years, drug overdoses have become the most common cause of death for people aged 18 to 45. Dr. Young said officers on the scene have Narcan to provide to overdosing victims, but Narcan is only affective with opioid related overdoses. Authorities say they believe the chemical agent causing these overdoses is an “illicit and illegal psychoactive cannabinoid.” This dangerous chemical agent can affect drugs like marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamines. It can also be laced in more common and legal substances like beverages and even candy.

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Parents and citizens should exercise caution.

After Dr. Young finished speaking, the Twin City’s mayors came to the podium to stress the danger this substance is causing in the community. Texarkana, Texas mayor Bob Bruggeman commended the medical and legal authorities for informing the public on such a dangerous issue. Arkansas mayor Allen Brown says he has come across a laced and dangerous piece of candy just lying on the ground, proving how easily this crisis can affect children. The mayors shared the sentiment that parents need to be cautious of what their kids are up to, as this crisis affects all demographics.

The Texarkana police chiefs, Texas’ Kevin Shooty and Arkansas’ Michael Cram, came to the podium to emphasize that these overdoses can affect anybody. Chief Shooty says “this is not extensive use of a substance, this is one pill.” Medical authorities have shared this sentiment and are running a campaign titled “one pill can kill.” Chief Cram says local law enforcement is “exponentially stronger” when the community comes forth with information. They stress that anyone who comes forward with helpful info will not be punished for “doing the right thing.” For those who are worried, you can make a tip anonymously.

With I-30 being a major drug route, it’s no surprise some of these dangerous substances have began to affect Texarkana. Police chief Shooty says that while Texarkana is comprised of two twin cities in two different states, “we are one community.” Authorities hope to protect the community and put an end to these deadly substances plaguing it. They ask for citizens to spread information about these illicit and illegal drugs, and to contact authorities with any relevant information. Drop boxes located around the cities can be used to safely turn in these dangerous substances in order for police, with help from the DEA, to identify these chemical agents and stop these unnecessary deaths as soon as possible.

For more local and national news, visit Fox Sports Texarkana’s website.