Concerns rising over synthetic marijuana in Lexington

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Concerns are rising in Lexington over the use of synthetic marijuana. Lexington Police say mostly juveniles and the homeless are using the drug, also known as serenity.

Sergeant Jervis Middleton says the drug is popular likely because it's cheap and easy to get. Although it looks like marijuana, it is much different and very dangerous.

"Just like with any drug, you just don't know what's in it," Sgt. Middleton explained. "The manufacturer of this drug... they're just putting in whatever they deem necessary. They're just trying to escape some of the KRS laws, some of the statutes, around trafficking or possession of the synthetic marijuana. You just don't know what you're getting in it, and that's the dangerous part of it."

Catholic Action Center Director Ginny Ramsey said she does know some of the homeless people who use the shelter

"We had two dramatic cases. One of them was a gentleman who stayed with us a lot. That night he didn't. He was staying on the steps of a building downtown. And, he died. The people with him said all he had as they put it was some "Ren" and that's what they call the synthetic marijuana," Ramsey said.

Ramsey said a second situation involved a man who allegedly smoked synthetic marijuana and suffered a seizure. Ramsey says that man survived.

Ramsey says she hopes the new Catholic Action Center will help bring in homeless people so that they no longer feel vulnerable to the lifestyle outside the shelter.

"A lot of our folks have the addiction problems and have the low self-esteem and really don't give a damn about their life. What we're trying to give them is a place where they can see that they can start caring about their lives," Ramsey said.

Symptoms of synthetic marijuana usage include being lethargic, having hallucinations, sweating, and being rendered unconscious.

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