Ashland, WI (NNCNOW.com) --- Duluth has been called ground zero in the war on synthetic drugs...but the problem is becoming more prevalent in Northwestern Wisconsin as well.
Dozens gathered in Ashland today to protest and fight back against the rising synthetic drug use in their city, and for many, the protest is personal.
Paula Tucci-Telisczak organized the protest after her 15 year son was found lying in the middle of the road...high on synthetic drugs.
"We have to let the city and the store know we are not gonna take this poison harming our children and our families," said Tucci-Telisczak.
Tucci-Telisczak and dozens of others lined Main Street with signs calling for a ban on synthetics and for the local headshop to stop selling.
"If what happened to Brett can save someone else's kid, father, mother, then it's all worth it to me," said Tucci-Telisczak
Dan Halverson used to be first in line at the JC Moon head shop to feed his and his girlfriend's addiction.
"We hit rock bottom, we were selling everything we had and just getting to the point where it's like alright, this is enough, we need to stop otherwise we're going to die," said Halverson.
After four years of battling his demons, Halverson joined the protest to let other users know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
"I've never felt better, I'm very proud of myself and I actually take pride in life now," said Halverson.
For Ashland Mayor Bill Whalen, the protest is a step in the right direction for his city.
"If I had children of that age, who were taking these substances, I would probably be down there myself. We all love our children and we don't want to see them exposed to this," said Whalen.
Ashland police say they've seen a major increase in synthetic drug use over the last three years.
"It's bad for the human body, it's bad for the brain," said Captain Jim Gregoire of the Ashland Police Department.
The police department would like to see the head shop stop selling the synthetics, but has a larger goal in mind.
"My ultimate dream would be to have a federal law that makes it illegal to sell synthetics," said Capt. Gregoire.
A goal with which many, who participated in the protest, would agree.
Mayor Whalen says city regulations are already in the works to ban synthetics from being sold in Ashland.
Written and posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati