Local health experts warn that synthetic marijuana use is on the rise in the Coastal Bend, and they say the effects are worse than that of regular marijuana.
The announcement comes just a week after a police raid targeting local stores that were selling the illegal drug.
The staff at Bayview Behavioral Hospital said that, in 2012, they saw 12 times as many synthetic marijuana cases as in the previous year. Health experts said it can be just as addictive and deadly as meth or even crack cocaine.
"Some of the product names it's marketed under are K-2, Spice, Black Mamba, Dream, Kick," said Dr. Joy Alonzo, associate professor of pharmacy practice. "It keeps changing."
Alonzo said many people do not realize that the drug is illegal. That is why the Corpus Christi Police Department raided several stores last week, confiscating the product and even making arrests.
The product can trigger agitation, anxiety, hypertension and even heart attacks.
"For parents, if you know your child is very agitated, doesn't want to look you in the eye, doesn't want human contact, paranoid, you have to consider maybe they've had exposure to these compounds," Alonzo said.
Bayview Behavioral Hospital is a 68-bed facility, a part of Corpus Christi Medical Center, and is the only one that can serve kids ages 4-18 for chemical dependency; but they say it is not just kids who are trying the drug.
Health experts say the effects of synthetic marijuana can be up to 800 times as potent as natural marijuana.