First Coast Family Says So-Called Synthetic Marijuana Destroyed Them | News
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- While local, state, and federal bans prohibit the sale of K2, or "synthetic marijuana", it's still widely available in Florida and across the United States.
In many gas stations and online kids can get their hands on it for less than $50 a bag.
Despite the dangers, many people still consider the drug safe. Among them was a young First Coast man.
"We weren't just his family, we were his best friends. I coached him in soccer for 13 years. I taught him how to surf," said John Porter of his 21-year-old son.
His surfboard is still in the garage. His CD's and books are still stacked in his room.
But at the end of the hallway in the Porter's home, their son is gone.
"Just losing my child. He's gone right now. He's not the same boy," said Kathy Porter.
Kathy and John Porter said their son has been hospitalized four times since June when he started smoking K2.
They said the synthetic drug put him in a psychotic state, and there's nothing they can do to help.
"It's like he was tormented. There was something in his brain that he's trying to get out," said John.
The Porters were thrown off-guard by the substance their son bought at a gas station down the street.
"Is this a flavor you're putting in your cigarettes? What is this blueberry diamond?" Kathy Porter says she asked her son.
Local and federal laws exist outlawing a specific type of the drug, but all the manufacturers have to do is tweak the chemicals inside, and it's right back on the shelves.
"I call it rat poison. It's like there was some chemical sprayed on dried herbs that the kids are smoking," said John Porter.
"It's creeping in. And most kids, good kids, don't understand that the substances within it are illegal," said Susan Pitman, the Executive Director of the Safe and Healthy Duval Coalition.
She said there's been an explosion of the so-called legal marijuana in Jacksonville since 2009.
"These have been found to be anywhere from 20 to 800 times as potent as THC, and the kids don't know that," said Pitman.
And their families are left to deal with the aftermath.
"When something happens to you, that's one thing. But when something happens to your kid, I don't care how old you are, it just kills you. It just rips your heart out," said John Porter.
Their son remains hospitalized.
The Porter's are leaning on online support groups to help them through. They're holding out hope he will eventually come out of his psychotic state.