Alarming statistics about dangers of head shop drugs

On Tuesday, CNY Central's Jim Kenyon exposed allegations by an Ithaca family that a legal drug called "endonesia" is potentially deadly. Ryan Barta says it landed him in the hospital last week. Barta called endonesia,"very addictive, most addictive thing I ever put in my body."

Barta bought endonesia at the Ithaca Hemp Company which issued a statement: "Endonesia is a perfectly legal type of product...there is no evidence that there are any health concerns associated with it."

But on Wednesday, the American Association of Poison Control Centers raised a nationwide alarm over alternative drugs legally sold in head shops. it analyzed emergency calls involving drugs sold legally as herbs, spices and incense . At least 2700 people have fallen ill since January alone, compared to 3200 in all of last year. At that rate, the Poison Control Centers claim medical emergencies could go up by fivefold by the end of the year. Locally, the Upstate Poison Control Center in Syracuse found 8 emergency treatments for these drugs so far this year, compared to 3 for all of last year.

Michele Caliva of the Poison Control Center in Syracuse said, "There is a misconception among children, among adults that if something is natural or herbal that means its safe"

If the legal synthetic and herbal drugs sold at head shops are in fact dangerous , many drug experts aren't fully aware of it.

On Wednesday teams from schools across the region competed in the 25th annual Drug Quiz Show. The questions to the kids involved the dangers of known drugs, but not alternative head shop drugs. The Executive Director of the Drug Quiz show, Susan Meidenbauer was shocked by these latest statistics. "It's extremely scary to me that we're in the business of prevention here at the Drug Quiz Show and just as fast as we can add new materials to the curriculum, new kinds of drugs and ways of using drugs are popping up...almost as if we can't keep up with what's happening out there."

As authorities look into possibly regulating or banning some of these legal head shop drugs, Meidenbauer and the Poison Control Center have joined the growing call to raise awareness about their new found dangers.

Caliva says she is willing to appear before any parents groups who ask.Read previous coverage of this story from CNYCentral Tuesday and from the Associated Press.