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      Synthetic drugs gaining popularity in Southwest Georgia

      Dougherty County drug agents say they TMre seeing more drug users turn to new ways of getting high - synthetic marijuana and bath salts. "At the crime lab in Columbus, Dougherty County was one of the biggest providers of spice to the crime lab than any other county around," said Victor Camp of the Albany Drug Unit.

      ~Spice TM is another name for K-2 or synthetic marijuana and drug investigators say it TMs a growing trend across Southwest Georgia. It is made mixing by one of a variety of widely available herbs together with about four of five chemicals. "They try to get it as close to the appearance of marijuana as they can so it TMs generally a greenish-looking, leafy-type substance," said Major Bill Berry of the ADU. "It TMs chopped up, most of the time, into fine particles."

      Spice is more potent than traditional marijuana and has only been illegal in Georgia since May. While the novelty of a new drug can hinder law enforcement, it can also attract younger users, something drug agents say is partly behind the new practice of snorting bath salts for a quick, powerful high.

      "It TMs new," said Berry. "It TMs the fad."

      Bath salts are legal but expensive " a half a gram of powder can cost up to thirty dollars or more. They can also be very dangerous " causing heart palpitations, seizures, and even strokes - but experts say that probably doesn TMt matter to younger users. "Young person thinking is, ~I TMm bulletproof. It won TMt hurt me. These guys are doing it so I need to do it,' " said Andy Martin of Insight Psychotherapy.

      In some ways, these new methods of getting high may seem like a perfect match for today TMs society. That TMs because their availability and popularity are both widely fueled by the internet. "Kids are talking to other kids on Facebook or whatever site they TMre on and they TMre talking about, ~oh, I did this and I felt like this TM so kids are normally curious," added Camp.