CHARLOTTE, NC (WJZY) - You've heard about the dangers of smoking synthetic marijuana -- but one man who claims to be addicted to the drug wants to show folks just how powerful it is.
FOX 46 Charlotte met up with 43-year old Richie Sanborn who Highway Patrol said was passed out behind the wheel of his truck in Bessemer City from smoking the drug in early September.
Synthetic marijuana is legal to buy and sell because it's marketed as "potpourri" with a label reading "not meant for human consumption." It's only illegal when you smoke it -- and Sanborn was charged with D.W.I. and "inhaling toxic vapors" because Highway Patrol said a "blunt" of the drug was still lit, in his hand as he was passed out behind the wheel.
When FOX 46 Charlotte asked Sanborn if he would be interested in talking about synthetic marijuana - he proceeded to explain how the drug has ruined his life. He said forget traditional marijuana - the synthetic stuff has effects more like LSD. He said the two drugs do not even compare, with synthetic, being much, much worse.
Sanborn said he feels like he's standing on the edge of a cliff - and that plenty of other people are in the same boat. He agreed to an interview, under one condition -- that FOX 46 Charlotte would show him smoking the drug on camera so he could put a face and perspective to just how bad the effects are.
"This stuff looks like weed," Sanborn said. "It don't smell like weed and it sure as hell don't give you the effects of weed...I took a fire rake four weeks ago and beat myself with a fire rake to keep myself from going to Johnny's to get any more of this sh-t," he explained.
Sanborn bought the drug from Johnny's E Cigs in Bessemer City. FOX 46 Charlotte also learned that it's being sold at Smokers Etc. in Gastonia.
Sanborn said he is not trying to flaunt his drug use. He's not proud of it. He is trying to make a point - stating synthetic marijuana is an awful, addictive drug that he simply can't put down.
The side effects of synthetic marijuana use include (even at low doses):
- elevated blood pressure
- elevated heart rate
- heart palpitations
- increased agitation
- pale skin