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Ingredient Change Helps Keep "Spice" On Shelves

Last updated on Thursday, February 16, 2012

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Inside a package found on a shelf inside an Indianapolis gas station is a chemically-treated incense. The products are sold under a variety of names, like Spice, K2 and Mad Hatter.

And they're supposed to be illegal.

Senator Ron Alting, a Republican from Lafayette, said these products are widely available. "A kid can go in a gas station, a proper tobacco shop and buy this stuff."

The manufacturers of these products change one ingredient. You can see on the back label for Madhatter what's not inside. The manufacturer makes the change to stay one step ahead of the law.

Indiana had outlawed most of the ingredients last year, but some have found a way around the law. "They did change a molecule, and in these drugs like bath salts, K2 Spice, and put them back on the shelf," said Senator Jim Merritt of Indianapolis.

There is a loophole in Indiana law, and lawmakers are in the process of changing it. If that change passes, the state will have more flexibility to take products like Spice and Mad Hatter off the shelf.

When Eyewitness News first showed you the dangers of these chemically-treated incense products almost two years ago, the products had been linked to emergency room visits and a few deaths. The products are not supposed to smoked or ingested.

Senator Alting said he has had a number of calls from constituents this year. "The side effects (include) hallucinations. I have had constituents jump out of windows, stab themselves in the neck. And the problem with it, as I'm reminding our colleagues: it's legal."

The numbers of people hospitalized and in rehab, according to the lawmakers pushing this bill, are staggering. "Their whole family has been destroyed both financially trying to get them into detox centers. It is almost impossible to get a clean from this." said Alting.

The pending bill is expected to pass into law.

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