Police: Man beat infant daughter after smoking synthetic pot
More calls to Tucson's poison control center even though spice is illegal
Reporter: Claire Doan
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV/AP) – A Phoenix man is accused of beating his infant daughter after smoking a form of synthetic marijuana called spice.
Bond was set at $45,000 for 29-year-old Jessi Miller after his initial appearance in Maricopa County Superior Court. He was arrested on suspicion of child abuse.
Phoenix police said Miller told officers he smoked spice in the bathroom and then began to hallucinate, feeling like “his soul left his body and he was in hell.” Police said Miller then beat his 18-month-old with a closed fist causing major head injuries.
The violent behavior does not surprise Keith Boesen, director of Tucson’s Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center.
“[Spice causes] these psychotic episodes, these very powerful delusions and hallucinations. Users are extremely agitated and paranoid to the point that they feel like they’re under attack. They feel like it’s a threat to them,” Boesen told 9 On Your Side.
Spice is a mixture of herbs sprayed with chemicals similar to THC, which is the chemical compound in marijuana.
Even though both the Drug Enforcement Administration and the state of Arizona have banned spice, there have been more calls to Tucson’s poison control center so far this year than year to date last year: 136 calls – a jump from the 107 in 2011.
9 On Your Side asked why there are so many cases if spice is illegal.
“It’s possible that some of these chemicals out there are considered illegal that but still being sold and they’re difficult to track down and take off the market,” Boesen said, adding that other mixtures may have new chemicals that are not illegal.
Boesen explained that because of the different kinds of spice and varying degrees of potency, spice users who must go the hospital are essentially guinea pigs for doctors who are still learning about various effects of spice.
“When you ingest these chemicals – these kinds of substances – they can have long-term effects potentially on brain chemistry that we don’t have any way to predict at this time,” said State Representative Dr. Matt Heinz.
Poison Control Centers in Arizona have gotten more than 200 calls this year, but usually the number of people affected is five times the number of people who call for help.