Use of "Spice" having deadly consequences

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The hunt for a high could mean a hunt for a hospital.

"The fact that people are ending up in ICU and on a ventilator is disturbing," says Dr. Brent Furbee at IU Health Methodist Hospital Poison Control.

He's talking about sudden comas and three deaths in Colorado possibly linked to the use of "Spice" - synthetic marijuana.

Fifty people in Denver alone were sick enough to be hospitalized. In two other states, too. In Indiana, Dr. Furbee says, "there's a concern it may be headed this way. People ought to consider that before they buy."

But on the streets of Indianapolis, Bruce Vance told Eyewitness News he wonders if something risky is already making the rounds here.

"I just had a friend almost lost his life," Vance said.

On a recent hot day his friend smoked some Spice, he says.

"I was talking to him and his eyes kind of rolled back, he was smoking a cigarette. He kind of had the shakes. Told him stand up, get some air. Just almost crashed," Vance said.

The friend was rushed to the hospital and survived.

"The patient never knows what they bought," says Furbee.

Even though some of the sick victims said they used a product and identified it by name, who really knows.

"You can see one thing in a packet one day, sell a completely different thing in the same packet the next day, so there's no quality control in these things," said Furbee.

That's why Mark Williams always warns young people "anytime you're buying something through the mail or buying something where there's no standards or no ingredient list on the packet, it's always dangerous. You got guys who will always substitute anything in those just to make a buck."

Poison Control says new state laws seem to be working to curb access to some of the Spice-like products, but there's still an appetite.

"They come in there all the time and ask for it. We tell 'em we don't sell it and don't know where they can get it," said one store owner.