Posted: Jul 6, 2012 5:16 PM
Updated: Jul 6, 2012 5:53 PM
EDINBURG - Synthetic marijuana is becoming an epidemic in the Rio Grande Valley, said one local physician.
Dr. Ron McMurray of Edinburg Regional Medical Center said local emergency rooms are filling up with people smoking the potent chemical.
"Anywhere from two to six or seven a day possibly," McMurray said of the number of cases they see, although he said it's almost impossible to quantify the real number of cases.
McMurray said the chemicals in synthetic marijuana can trigger violent physical and mental episodes and in some cases the side effects can be deadly.
"People can completely go crazy," he said.
Valley doctors said there is no test to detect the drug.
McMurray said the drug leads to irrational behavior, actions not typically associated with regular marijuana.
The severity of the problem hit close to home for a Rio Grande Valley family after their son went missing in Austin. He was using synthetic drugs. Police found him a week later at a homeless shelter.
McMurray said synthetic marijuana can be about 10 times as potent as regular marijuana and 100 times more dangerous.
He said patients can suffer dementia, hallucinations and heart attacks.
The FDA last year banned several chemicals used to make synthetic drugs, but manufacturers have found new formulas to keep their products in the market.