ELIZABETHTOWN — Synthetic marijuana, he said, using a PowerPoint presentation for emphasis, can cause rapid heart rate; heart attack; hallucinations; severe agitation; loss of consciousness; dementia; psychotic episodes; tremors and seizures.
Its effects last longer than marijuana, as they remain in the system up to three days, he said.
Using synthetic marijuana, Hooper said, is "like playing Russian roulette," because there's such a range of symptoms it can cause.
Also, synthetic marijuana abusers build up a tolerance and thus need more to get the kind of high they crave; its effects may be different each time it's consumed.
"You can take it one time and think it is really bad, or another time and find it is not doing much," Hooper said.
NOT ONLY TEENS
Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague said she had been in contact with state legislators and that "Betty (Sen. Betty Little) is happy we are at the forefront on this. This is how laws are passed. We get the energy and momentum going.
"They want to hear from people about personal experiences," she said. Doug Terbeek and Mac MacDevitt of the Substance Abuse Prevention Team of Essex County, pointed out that this is not just a teen issue, as the 18 to 25 age group seems to have the highest percentage of users nationwide.
New York State Police doesn't monitor legal substances, said Capt. John Tibbitts.
"(But) there is a lot of stuff I have been hearing, and it is being found with other substances."
"A part of this scares me to death," said Sprague.
"It looks like Pop Rocks. People smoke it and could care less because it's legal.
"Until a couple of weeks ago, I had only heard of it and didn't know much (about it)."
"The people who sell this stuff want to make money," Tibbitts said. "The most powerful thing you hear is economics.