Indiana lawmaker pushes to ban "spice"

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Kevin Rader/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Indiana is leading the nation in the number of incidents involving synthetic marijuana. That reality is prompting one lawmaker to take action.

It all started with a group of teenagers getting together to try Spice, also known as K2. It is legal in Indiana.

"Sure, I'll try it. Why not?" said Derek McQueen. Fifteen minutes later the 21-year-old from Greenfield felt as though he was on fire.

"I just wanted it to stop. I was paranoid. Didn't know what to do so I ran into the kitchen grabbed a sharp object and tried to end it all," he said.

"Luckily I was there and able to help stop the bleeding or at least slow it down until Lifeline got there," said Annette Enge, his mother.

McQueen spent four days in intensive care and has the scars to prove it. Enge talked about how she felt when she realized the synthetic marijuana was legal.

"When I heard it was legal? Outraged. It needs to be banned," she said.

Rep. John Barnes says it is already banned in eight states and he wants to make Indiana the ninth.

"If this is incense then it's not fit for human consumption and you are selling it with rolling paper right in front of it. That is what we call a wink and a nod," said Barnes (D-District 89).

As of June 30th of this year, the 66 reported incidents in Indiana involving people from age six to 25 represents the largest number of K2-Spice cases in the United States, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

"It's a natural thing. Kids want to experiment. They think it's legal and so they say why not," said Julie Cope Saetre, Drug Free Indiana.

Derek McQueen will tell you why not.

"Try at your own risk," he said. "I just tried it as a one-time thing. Too much for me."

Barnes says he is also asking the stores that sell the product to pull it from their shelves as a matter of safety in the short term but will be working for legislation to outlaw it in the long run.

Also, on Thursday, August 12th, Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer announced that his office has requested the Boone County Commissioners take immediate action to pass an ordinance banning the sale and consumption of K2/Spice in Boone County.

Prosecutor Meyer stated: "This office, in conjunction with the juvenile court and the juvenile probation department are starting to see an alarming number of young people testing positive for this substance - despite some reports to the contrary there now exists a method for testing for the substance within a person's body. In fact, this office's juvenile court deputy prosecutor referred to the numbers as evidence of an epidemic."