Duluth, MN (Northlands NewsCenter)
-- The National Institute of Health has released its first study analyzing the use of synthetic alternatives to marijuana, and the results are raising some eye brows.
In the Midwest, 13.5 percent of High School Seniors have tired synthetic marijuana, the highest of any region in the US.
Bob Olson, a member of the Duluth Police Department was a 12 year veteran of the DARE program, a push by police to inform fifth and six graders about the dangers of drugs.
"Well basically DARE taught kids how to avoid harmful drugs, taught them the harmful affects of drugs"
Due to budget cuts, the program was cut last year.
Right at the beginning of the skyrocketing popularity of synthetic marijuana.
A drug that has now, according the National Institute of Health used by closed to 13 percent of High School Seniors in the Midwest.
The highest use of any region in the United States.
"What I know about synthetic marijuana is that there has been cases where people have ended up in the hospital with seizures from it and had some serious health effects"
Officials from High School's in Duluth have reported that they are startled by the newest numbers, but don't really think it's a problem.
"You can't control what your son or daughter is doing in their free time but there are a few things in Wisconsin or Superior that they are doing right"
Police Liaison Tom Johnson over at Superior High School has busted two students this year and feels this new drug is a problem, but they still have a few things going for them.
"I think it's a bad, bad thing. Kids are really getting messed up on it. Luckily I guess that Wisconsin has a ban as does the city ordinance banning this use and possession in Superior and Wisconsin"
A city and state ban on the drug, absent in Duluth and Minnesota.
Johnson feels that it curbs the problem, and is trying to get the same thing done in Duluth.
"The committee I'm on is looking to work with Duluth and in Minnesota to help them get a ban together against the synthetics, bath salts type products"
But both liaisons, from both states, believe that education and awareness, something that the DARE program provided before it was cut from both School Districts is the best approach to keeping kids off of drugs.
Written for the web by: Zach Vavricka