The Tempe Union High School District Governing Board will decide Nov. 17 whether to classify Spice, an herbal smoking mixture, as a drug similar to marijuana.
If passed, students possessing Spice would face the same consequences as for other similar drugs. District policy states a student found distributing, sharing, using or in possession of a drug faces long-term suspension. Being involved in a sale could lead to expulsion.
Spice is not a new drug but has garnered national attention because several states have recently enacted legislation banning the sale of it. Currently it is illegal in 16 states with more to vote on legislation in the coming months.
Spice, which is also sold under the name K2, is a synthetic cannabis and is marketed as a "herbal incense." On the packaging it says that it is not recommended for human consumption. Spice remains legal in Arizona and available for anyone over the age of 18. It cannot be detected by drug tests.
In an Oct. 20 presentation, governing board officials learned side effects included "hallucinations, delusions, severe agitation, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, vomiting, tremors and seizures. In the most severe cases users have blacked out for several hours, had feelings of cardiac arrest, and/or recorded feelings of psychosis."
According to Linda Littell, director of communications for TUHSD, there have been 10 reported incidents with district students. None of those have been from Desert Vista High School and there has been one reported incident at Mountain Pointe, according to Assistant Principal Patricia Goolsby.
During the October presentation, the board learned that one of the major concerns is that Spice is accessible at head shops and online. Although he does not sell it at the Tinder Box in Ahwatukee Foothills, owner Jeff Cayton said there has been interest in it.
"We have had people asking about it, yes," he said. "But I choose not to sell it here."
Mountain Pointe will be showing an informational video to staff and students later in the month.
"This is not a knee-jerk reaction but rather a concern that we have to get the information to our teachers, parents and community members," Goolsby said in an e-mail. "It also lets our students know we are aware and gives them correct information about the substance and its possible deadly side effects and the district policy on the use, possession or sale of Spice or K2."