It's the time of year that Panama City has a love/hate relationship with – Spring Break season has begun. While Spring Break is essential for the economic success of many of our region’s businesses, it also brings loud crowds, an increase in arrests, and the risk of car crashes associated with alcohol and speeding. The season also means Panama City may see the beginning of new fads, both the innocuous kind and the dangerous ones. One emerging drug craze that our Panama City injury law firm plans to keep an eye on is the use of "e-hash," a new form of an old drug.
WJGH recently spoke to local law enforcement authorities about the first signs of what may become the next drug craze. In fact, investigators from the Bay County Sheriff's arrested two people last Thursday on allegations that included the sale of "e-hash," a form of marijuana that users can smoke via electronic cigarettes ("e-cigarettes").
Deputies report that they had arrested three juveniles who were breaking into cars in the Derby Woods section of Lynn Haven. The teens told the officers they wanted money for marijuana and pointed officers to a home owned by Hoa and Jennifer Nguyen. Inside the home, investigators discovered 80 grams of marijuana, 130 grams of hash wax, and 100 hash oil vaporizers, along with $25,000. The Nguyens had been arrested for allegedly selling marijuana and ecstasy back in 2005.
Officials believe that people use the hash oil and wax inside e-cigarettes, aerosol-powered devices typically used to deliver nicotine without the odor or smoke that come with traditional cigarettes. Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen said that they'd hoped not to see e-hash, but they noted that spring break often brings things not seen previously in our region. He adds that e-hash may be particularly hard to crack down on since "[i]t's going to be pretty difficult for us to determine if your electronic cigarette is smoking hash oil or blueberry vapor." The office plans to speak to Attorney General Pam Bondi's office about the trend.
Some users and advocacy groups claim that marijuana does not impede driving ability. However, safety-oriented groups point to evidence suggesting otherwise. In response to the question "Does marijuana use affect driving," the National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that pot impairs motor skills and slows reaction times. They also cite a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") study finding that drugs other than alcohol play a part in 18% of driver fatalities.
In another portion of the Institute's website, they note that THC (marijuana's active ingredient) is second only to alcohol as the substance most often found in the systems of impaired drivers, drivers killed in accidents, and crash victims in general. An Australian study that looked at 3,000 fatally injured motor vehicle operators concluded that when THC was in a driver's system, s/he was substantially more likely to be the one at fault in the crash. As THC levels grew higher, the likelihood that the driver was culpable also grew. Additional evidence showed marijuana had a negative impact on attentiveness, perception of speed/time, and ability to use past experience to inform present situations.
We believe it is important to be aware of emerging drug trends. This is especially true for parents of teens who are often targeted by drug pushers and subject to pressure from peers. Drug use in all forms (including abuse of legal drugs) is a real concern for our office because, as residents of Northwest Florida, we care deeply about the health of our community.
We also know from experience that drugged driving can have tragic results. If you were injured or lost a family member because of an intoxicated driver, call to schedule a free meeting with our Panama City drugged driving lawyer. Attorney Pittman has more than 25 years' experience helping injured people recover monetary compensation from those at fault, and we don't charge fees unless you get money.