30 hospitalized by tainted spice

DEKALB COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - Investigators in DeKalb and Cherokee counties said at least 30 people between 16 and 30 years old have kidney damage because of synthetic drugs.

In a joint press conference, the district attorneys of DeKalb and Cherokee counties said they believe the spice was laced with poison or pesticides.

DeKalk County District Attorney Michael O'Dell said the spice dealer could face assault and attempted murder charges when caught. Officials said they do have suspects.

"We will be aggressively prosecuting anyone and everyone who has put out pesticide or poisoned laden spice into the hands of our young people. In addition to criminal sanctions under the new spice law we will be perusing assault and even if warranted attempted murder warrants as well," said O'Dell.

O'Dell said the spice users were hospitalized within the last three weeks with kidney failure. A teenage patient will be on permanent dialysis for life.

The FBI could be brought in to the investigation. Authorities are contacting the health departments to see if there are more victims.

Investigators are working to find the tainted spice. Once it's found, it will be sent to a lab for testing where it will be top priority.

An emergency ban on synthetic marijuana went into effect in Alabama in October, 2011. The law banning spice went into effect Thursday, ten days after Governor Robert Bentley signed it. Those caught with the drug face possession of a controlled substance, a class C felony.

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