Fort Mill school leaders took their first step Tuesday to ban synthetic marijuana use by students on district property.
Random drug testing will not detect synthetic marijuana, a combination of herbal and spice products sprayed with "potent psychotropic drugs," according to the York County All On Board Coalition.
Synthetic marijuana can be mixed with drink or food. It also can be smoked like marijuana.
"This is a substance that gives the same effects as marijuana," Diane Dasher, a Fort Mill school board and coalition member, said during Tuesday's board workshop session at Springfield Middle School. "It's more dangerous."
What's more, synthetic marijuana is legal.
Packaged in foil, synthetic marijuana is known by several names, including Spice Silver, K2, Spice Diamond, Skunk, Smoke, Spice, Genie and Pep Spice, according to the coalition.
"It's a loophole lawmakers need to fix," said Marvin Brown, commander of the York County Multijurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit. "What sense does it make that teenagers can buy K2 but can't buy a cigarette?"
On Tuesday, the Fort Mill school board approved a resolution opposing synthetic marijuana products and other herbal substitutes for marijuana on school or district property.
"Most people didn't know about it," Dasher said of parents' general knowledge of synthetic marijuana. "The kids know about it."
Prices range from $10 to $45.
"Everybody was surprised that there was a substance that could be used as a mind-altering drug that can be legally purchased," board chairman Patrick White said.
Synthetic marijuana is available at various businesses like tobacco shops.
"It's a scary thing," Dasher said of synthetic marijuana that smells like spice. "Right now, it's being sold in convenience stores."
For those who decide to experiment, there are repercussions. Using the drug for a "marijuana high" can render vomiting, an increased blood pressure as well as hallucinations, seizures/tremors and numbness.
"There's been several deaths associated with it," Dasher said.
"It's our job to protect our youth from illegal activities," Superintendent Chuck Epps said after the workshop session.
The board's resolution notes that "without laws banning possession and selling such products, law enforcement, schools, substance abuse treatment centers and parents lack the necessary tools to protect children and the community."
District officials plan to meet with York County legislators next week to seek their support.
"I hope that the York County delegation will propose legislation making this and other synthetic drugs illegal," Dasher said.