A dangerous kind of green: South Carolina police warn parents about heroin that looks almost like cannabis

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The Greenwood Police Department (GPD) in South Carolina issued an advisory to parents this week cautioning them about a recent discovery in which a green substance tested positive as heroin, but looked quite a bit like cannabis.

The advisory posted on Facebook implores PARENTS: PLEASE READ. In a straightforward approach surely meant to get parents’ attention, police kick off by asking: “If you saw this, what would you think it was? Candy? Marijuana? This is heroin.”

One person commenting on the police post noted: “ I’d like to see one of the pieces cut open and also what the coating is, or was. It would help in keeping an eye out for crap like this.” Another poster thanked the police for providing a photo, adding “ more photos of other drugs would be helpful. ”

According to 7News, GPD public information officer Jonathan Link reports: “This is not something people just smoke a little bit and walk away. This is the kind of thing that grips people and puts them in the addiction, recovery process for the rest of your life.”

But Link notes the substance, which initially looks like cannabis that has been compressed, but when manipulated is much more of a “powdery, kind of a crystal substance,” Link adds.

Adult-use cannabis is illegal in South Carolina, with the Price Benowitz law firm reporting, “while other states have either de-criminalized or legalized marijuana possession, South Carolina still aggressively prosecutes these charges.”

A first offence for possessing an ounce (28 grams) or less of weed can result in a misdemeanour charge punishable by 30 days in jail and a US$200 ($250) fine, while a subsequent offence can spur a year in jail and a US$2,000 ($2,500) fine, reports the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

But sale or trafficking of less than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) of cannabis is a felony charge carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a US$5,000 ($6,250) fine, according to NORML.

Trafficking four to 14 grams of heroin, for a first offence, carries a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years and a maximum of 25, Thompson & Hillier reports . A second offence is a mandatory sentence of 25 years imprisonment.

Some question the economic reasoning of lacing cannabis with more expensive drugs.

“Spiked marijuana is a myth,” notes one Quora poster . “Weed is one of the cheapest drugs and cutting it with another drug is not as cost effective as is cutting other drugs such as cocaine or diamorphine,” the commenter reasons.

That said, American Addiction Centers reports that marijuana could be laced with, among other substances, lead or other heavy metals, glass, fungus and bacteria, heroin, LSD and cocaine.

According to Drug Rehab, “It can be nearly impossible to determine if marijuana is laced with another drug or substance” and that “many impurities are undetectable by do-it-yourself tests.” That said, an obviously suspicious colour or pungent smell could be a warning that something is not right, the group advises.

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