UAE authorities are cracking down hard on anyone caught with an illegal substance or drug known as "spice," "space" or"K-2."
In September, the British Embassy sent an alert to English-speaking schools in the UAE warning that arrests for possession of the drug have increased significantly.
It reported that 35 British nationals were arrested last summer, and now face imprisonment and deportation. In addition, seizure of illegal drugs at customs has tripled in one year.
As of July 1, anybody caught with the drug receives a mandatory four-year sentence followed by deportation.
Individuals caught supplying the drug to other people will receive a 15-year mandatory sentence.
What exactly is this drug? And why is it so dangerous?
The scientific name for this substance is synthetic cannabis. However, it has many different popular names, including "spice," "space," or "K-2." Some people refer to it as "fake weed," "Yucatan Fire," "Skunk," or "Moon Rocks."
This drug contains, essentially, dried plants and chemical additives that are responsible for the mind-altering affects it produces. Spice is legal in some countries, but most definitely NOT in the UAE, where it is now banned.
The drug is popular among students between the ages of 14 and 21 in some countries.
Similar to marijuana, Spice is abused mainly by smoking. However it can also be prepared as a herbal infusion for drinking.
Spice users have reported that initially, the drug elevates mood, makes them feel more relaxed, and alters perceptions.
Some repeat users have reported psychotic effects such as extreme anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations.
Abusers of "Spice" have reported symptoms that include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, hallucinations, raised blood pressure, myocardial ischemia (reduced blood supply to the heart), panic, inability to evaluate distance and, in a few cases, it has caused heart attacks.
Regular users may also experience withdrawal and addiction.
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