Imminent danger orders issued at two Clare County businesses

Two “imminent danger orders” were issued in Clare County last week to halt the sale of the new designer drugs, commonly called “bath salts” and “spice.”

The orders declare the use of those substances as “a threat or danger to the health of residents” and restricts their sale in Clare County, according to a June 8 release from Mary Kushion, Health Officer at the Central Michigan District Health Department. They are sold off the shelf at many convenience stores.

Kushion said, “The legislature is in the process of putting a state-wide ban on these dangerous products, but we didn’t want to wait for that to happen, so we implemented an ‘imminent health order’ on two Clare County businesses last week to remove the product from their shelves.”

She said both businesses, listed on the CMDHD website as Kern’s Grocery and 4:20 North Novelties in Harrison, were “very cooperative” about removing the product from their shelves.

Three imminent danger orders were also issued in Gladwin County May 17 to Northern Michigan Tobacco, Smokin’ Hot Tobacco Shop and Tobacco Alley, LLC ordering the removal of the products from their shelves.

She added that seven more orders were issued Tuesday in Isabella County, although those names had not been listed on the CMDHD website yet.

Kushion said the “bath salt” products contain synthetic chemicals and could cause “extreme paranoia, psychotic episodes including seeing demons, monsters, foreign soldiers and aliens, and sometimes cause violent behavior.”

Other symptoms include chest pain, confusion, high blood pressure, sweating, hyper-alertness, sleep deprivation, agitation, extreme anxiety, hallucinations, bruxism [clenching and grinding the teeth], compulsive water drinking, tremors and seizures. The symptoms can last up to three days and in extreme cases patients may need long term psychiatric facilities.

The “spice” products, also known as K2, are synthetic marijuana with unknown long term physical effects that can lead to seizures, elevated blood pressure and loss of control. They have a high potential for abuse, Kushion reported.

The CMDHD has the support of the Clare County Sheriff’s Department, Prosecutor Michelle Ambrozaitis and the Clare City Police Department.

Sarah Kile, Clare and Gladwin County Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator at the 1016 Recovery Network said concerns over the synthetic drugs prompted her to request the health department issue create the emergency report. “We have heard of two overdoses in Clare County, one of the synthetic marijuana and one with bath salts, but I am positive there are more. This abuse is highly underreported. It is new and doctors may not know what is causing the problems when they are treating patients.”

In a letter to the CMDHD, she wrote, “To protect the community at large I would urge you to do whatever you can to stop the spread of these dangerous drugs; including, but not limited to, a public health notice, a physician’s report and/or an emergency order.”

Sheriff John Wilson said, “I feel we need to move forward on this issue as soon as possible because of how dangerous this is to the citizens of Clare County. Because of the severity of this, we feel there isn’t time to wait for a law to be enacted to stop this.”

In his Editor’s column last week, Mike Wilcox wrote, “Violent crimes attributed to synthetic marijuana and bath salts are occurring at a rapid rate all over the country. Several high profile, violent crimes have been linked to the new drugs [in Michigan].”

He continued, “That is why symposiums like the one [that was] sponsored by the 80th District Court at Mid Michigan Community College on June 14, are so important. In the ever-changing world it is so important for all of us to keep up with the latest trends, particularly when it comes to what our sons and daughters are ingesting.

The Central Michigan District Health Department is asking people to be aware of the products and if they suspect the sale at a business, to notify law enforcement right away. Suspected abuse of the synthetic drugs should be reported to the Michigan Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.