By Mark Abrams
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Actress Demi Moore's suspected smoking of "incense," which led to her recent hospitalization and entry to rehab, is drawing public attention to a dangerous substance that's being used by teens and twenty-somethings as a cheap high.
A local expert says the synthetic marijuana properties it possesses can cause serious health problems for even first-time users.
Dr. Robert Middleberg, a forensic toxicologist at NMS Labs in Willow Grove, says there is a thriving market that sells herbal products, which are essentially laced with a drug that mirrors the effects of smoking marijuana.
"The giddiness and the euphoria associated with marijuana. However, the side effects are not what people are seeking and that would include such things as potential psychosis, panic attacks."
He says the product is sold legally at specialty shops and over the Internet. But law enforcement is becoming concerned and Middleberg says parents should be, too.
"Parents should be on the lookout for colorful packets of things with fancy names such as 'Spice' and 'K2' and other things like that and they are labeled sometimes as 'incense' with a labeling that says 'not to be consumed.' However, that is, of course, somewhat deceitful."
He says law enforcement is working to stop the sale of the materials, but off-shore distributors are continually changing the formula to avoid a drug labeling and prosecution.
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