Police investigate source of illegal drug that put two in hospital

(10-11-2013)

The Adams State University Police Department is teaming with the Alamosa Police Department to investigate a suspected case of illegal drug use that sent a student and a police office to the emergency room Wednesday, Oct. 9, according to Dr. Joel Shults, Chief of ASU PD.

Both the suspect, Martin Infante, age 19 of Alamosa, and Officer David Pino were released from SLV Health the same day, and the officer was cleared to return to work. Shults said Infante was released to Crossroads Managed Care for detoxification and was issued summonses for possession of marijuana of less than eight ounces, unlawful consumption of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The substance in question was confirmed as marijuana, but was apparently laced with another substance, possibly that known as "spice" - a marijuana alternative than contains chemical additives that cause psychoactive (mind-altering) effects. Pino appears to have been affected by skin contact with the substance or the suspect. Toxicology analysis is not yet complete, and police are working to determine the source of the marijuana, Shults added.

Pino was on campus foot patrol at about 10:30 a.m. Oct. 9 when he observed Infante engaged in apparent drug use. After apprehending Infante and bringing him to the police office for processing; Pino noted Infante exhibiting unusual behavior, then noticed reactions in himself. Pino than took Infante into protective custody, transported him to the ER, and admitted himself for treatment. Both experienced extreme anxiety, and the ER reported bizarre behavior with two other recent cases, Shults said.

"The symptomatic cues were consistent with 'spice.' Whatever the substance, it has psychotic effects, including possible violent actions," Shults said. "The effects can be suffered from physical contact, as was the case with our officer." The patrol car and office area were decontaminated, he added.

According to the federal website drugabuse.gov:

"'Spice' refers to a wide variety of herbal mixtures that produce experiences similar to marijuana (cannabis) and that are marketed as "safe," legal alternatives to that drug. Sold under many names, including K2, fake weed, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, Moon Rocks, and others - and labeled "not for human consumption" - these products contain dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives that are responsible for their psychoactive (mind-altering) effects. Labels on Spice products often claim that they contain 'natural' psycho-active material taken from a variety of plants. Spice products do contain dried plant material, but chemical analyses show that their active ingredients are synthetic (or designer) cannabinoid compounds.

"Spice users report experiences similar to those produced by marijuana-elevated mood, relaxation, and altered perception - and in some cases the effects are even stronger than those of marijuana. Some users report psychotic effects like extreme anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations."

Anyone who experiences, or has a friend who experiences such reactions or other unusual affects after smoking marijuana should seek medical care immediately, Shults added.

By Julie Waechter