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L.A. Times Won't Tell You How Teens Smoke Poisonous Weeds

A small piece in the Los Angeles Times' L.A. Now blog Wednesday mentions the hazards of teens getting high.

OK. Important topic. Teens have been looking for cheap buzzes since the Mesozoic Era, but it's always a key reminder of what can go wrong. After all, each year there's a new crop of pimple-faced, moody know-it-alls complaining about how much their parents suck. The piece explains how a percentage of these young adults are inhaling chemical sprays and smoking poisonous roadside weeds.

Whoa, pause this PSA. Smoking poisonous roadside weeds?What is that all about, yo?

Here's the thing: The L.A. Times doesn't say. It mentions this unique activity then goes right back to discussing chemical sprays and huffing. Interestingly, the L.A. Times piece -- which is about parents needing to be aware of the dangerous things kids are up to -- links to a Glendale Press story with the words "smoking poisonous roadside weeds." (I've done the same. You can see the Glendale Press story there.)

Surely, this link explains this roadside weed phenomenon, right? No such luck. The Glendale Press story, which is longer and more detailed, also mentions the poisonous weed angle then zooms right past it and starts talking about inhaling those damn chemicals.

Will somebody please get back to the poisonous roadside weeds? Do they grow alongside the 405? Do they grow near my driveway? What on God's Green (and apparently poisonous weed-filled) Earth are we talking about here?

In fact, Glendale police officer Joe Allen tells parents at a meeting: "It’s our job as parents … to get them to understand that using [drugs] has negative consequences."

Well, Officer Allen, I'm sure it has negative consequences and we'd all stop smoking the weeds growing in the 7-Eleven parking lot it if we knew what the hell you were talking about.

Thanks to a new tool called the Internet, I did a quick search and traveled over to KOAT in Albuquerque, New Mexico for some answers. At the risk of sounding like the belated Andy Rooney, it's rather pathetic when I have to leave a major newspaper's site and go to a small market TV station's website to get answers. Says something about the state of journalism, doesn't it?

Over there, cops talk about jimsom weed. Now we're getting somewhere. It turns out this weed, which also goes by "locoweed" and "The Devil's Trumpet," is quite dangerous. As in, potentially fatal. (Timeout for a second. While, I'm not advocating drug use, The Devil's Trumpet is a pretty badass name. But it'll knock you out faster than Mike Tyson circa 1987 so don't even think about using it.)

Here's what we know: Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Preventation [sic] said every part of the jimson weed -- also known as stinkweed, locoweed and moonflower -- is poisonous, and it is a powerful hallucinogen. Police said the fact that it's a hallucinogen make it more appealing for curious teens.

"We will see people smoking parts of the plant and eating the seeds. We will see people taking the seeds and making teas out of them," said Rio Rancho Police Sgt. Nicholas Onken.

But Onken said what causes so many overdoses is that the seeds are very slow to digest in the body.

"So someone will take one or two and nothing will happen, and it takes a while for it to kick in. And then, they'll take a few more and a few more, and before you know it, they are overdosing on it," Onken said.

The fruit is prickly, and the plants smell bad when crushed, but experts said the effects of taking jimson weed can last for days and overdoses can lead to seizures, comas and can even stop a person's breathing.

The CDC said symptoms of jimson weed poisoning include hallucinations, red skin and dilated pupils.

So we have to assume the L.A. Times is talking about jimsom weed and its horrible effects. But I guess we'll never know, will we? Perhaps crab grass is the latest hot drug among teens. Keep watching the news in New Mexico to find out. I just hope they realize there's no such word as "preventation."


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