A Doctor Calls a New Device the "Gold Standard" for Diagnosing Spice Overdoses
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Larry Magee, Medical Lab Scientist UMMC

Mississippi, like the rest of the nation, has seen a surge in the use of the synthetic drug Spice. In the Spring, doctors treated hundreds of people who became ill at hospitals across the state. Dr. Patrick Kyle is with the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

"April and May, we had over 781 people admitted to emergency rooms," said Kyle.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, doctors at UMMC treated seven patients who used the substance. With the help of cutting-edge technology the medical center recently bought, doctors determined what chemicals the patients smoked in minutes as opposed to several hours. 

"It's an instrument system called a Liquid Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer," said Kyle. 

"We confirmed with the state crime laboratory just the past few days, that it was a mixture of marijuana, and potpourri-type material and there were three different cannabinoids mixed in there," said Kyle.

Kyle says the device can identify 1,000 drugs and compounds, and they are adding to the list. Mike Perkins, with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, says people call Spice synthetic marijuana. But he says they're finding there's no plant material in it now. The product is sprayed or soaked in chemicals like bug spray or ammonia.

"It's the same as LSD.  It's a chemical drug. It has nothing to do with plant material. It's actually chemicals put together to make this drug," said Perkins.

Perkins says MBN made three large busts at home-made labs. He says while cases have declined, they're finding the product is now imported into Mississippi, packaged. Dr. Patrick Kyle estimates 10 people have died from using Spice this year.