Four Columbus students taken to hospital after smoking Spice

COLUMBUS, Ind. - Four Columbus students were rushed to the hospital Wednesday after they admitted they overdosed on the synthetic marijuana known as Spice.

Columbus North High School officials said the students smoked spice before their first class and were quickly overcome by high blood pressure, high anxiety, panic attacks and other symptoms.

"A lot of people don't want to accept that it happened because they didn't want that kind of thought about our school," one student said.

Administrators said the incident is the first Spice-related overdose in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation since the legislature took action in 2011 and 2012 to ban Spice and their synthetic components.

School officials said the health scare served as a strong message, that while not available on the shelves, Spice is still out there.

"We have discussions about it. We have people tell us that you can find it. If you get online, in fact, you might be surprised to find websites that tell you that you can make your own," Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation spokesman Larry Perkinson said.

About 2,500 students attend Columbus North High School. It didn't take long for word of the overdoses to spread throughout the student body.

Officials with the National Institute on Drug Abuse said Spice has a high potential for abuse and no medical benefit. It's a widely used drug, second only to marijuana, and it is marketed as a so-called natural product. Many users think it is harmless.

"Somebody is making it in a factory or warehouse in the dark of the night. You have no idea what's in it. You’re taking a risk that you’re going to get high. But you may also be killing yourself off in a few years," Capt. Dave Allender said.

Although Columbus police investigated the incident, there will not be a formal criminal investigation.

The four students will likely be suspended for five days for violating the school policy of being under the influence of a controlled substance on school property.

Follow Jack Rinehart on Twitter: @jackrinehart6

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