A total of 11 people were found collapsed after taking the drug Spice in Manchester city centre.
The users – of which two were just teenagers – were assisted by emergency services throughout the day on Thursday.
Passers-by witnessed those affected by the substance in a ‘zombie-like’ state between screaming and vomiting.
One person was even treated by medical staff after suffering from a cardiac arrest.
Police have issued a warning about the use of Spice and their growing concern – not only for those using the drug but for the community as a whole in Greater Manchester.
GMP Inspector Phil Spurgeon said: “We are working hard with our partners to reduce the harm Spice is causing in the city centre.
“It is extremely worrying however, that we have had two occasions in the last few weeks where we’ve seen multiple collapses in a fairly short space of time.
“Thus underlines the unpredictability of the substances involved and the more chaotic nature of Spice dealing since the Psychoactive Substances Act came into force.”
If you’ve heard Spice mentioned but aren’t sure what it means, here’s all you need to know:
What is Spice?
Spice is a form of synthetic cannabis that first appeared in Europe in 2004.
The substance used in it was invented unintentionally by John Huffman, an organic chemist at the Clemson University in South Carolina, USA. At the time he was actually developing anti-inflammatory medications.
What are the effects?
Spice causes mood elevation, alters perception and makes its users feel relaxed.
However, other known side effects include accelerated heart rate, vomiting, extreme anxiety, confusion, violent behaviour and suicidal thoughts.
It’s also highly addictive and its withdrawal symptoms are worse than heroin or cocaine.
Why is Spice so popular?
Price, most likely.
The synthetic drug has a street value of £5-per-gram in Manchester, working out to be much cheaper than cannabis.
Is Spice legal?
The compound JWH-018 – which is found in Spice – was banned in the UK in 2010.
Later in April 2016, Spice in all its forms was banned under the Psychotic Substances Act.
What is the impact of Spice on Manchester?
The devastation of Spice was witnessed first-hand by thousands of people as users sprawled out around the city centre on Thursday.
Sirens seemed to be sounding constantly – leading many to consider that the problem is only growing.
However, since March 13 six people have been arrested on suspicion of possessing Spice with the intent to supply, two of which resulted in charges.
GMP have insisted that they are cracking down on the issue before it further gets out of hand.
Inspector Spurgeon said: “Spice has recently added to the challenge that we and our partners face in tackling the vulnerability, crime and anti-social issues that affect the city centre communities.
“We cannot allow a situation to develop where Spice takes root in Manchester city centre, especially as some of those we have caught dealing have been found with weapons.
“Our multi-agency approach to tackling Spice dealing sees us continue to work with a number of partners across the city, such as Manchester City Council’s rough sleeper team, outreach teams and local charities.
“We are also looking at how we can best share information with and support the North West Ambulance Service and the NHS.”
Image courtesy of Chuck Grimmett via Flickr, with thanks.