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Santa Maria Police Investigating After El Camino Students Suffer Medical Reaction to ‘Spice’ Drug

Three of five students who smoked a synthetic drug known as Spice before arriving at their junior high school Friday morning were taken to the hospital and prompted a Santa Maria police investigation.

Emergency crews responded at 8:40 a.m. Friday to El Camino Junior High School for a reported overdose involving as many five students.

Santa Maria-Bonita School District spokeswoman Maggie White said none of the students overdosed, and the incident apparently involved students who reportedly smoked Spice, often called synthetic marijuana, at a youth's house before school.

"The school staff noticed their odd behavior and called an ambulance and parents of the students," White added.

Police officers responded to the campus and found multiple students under the influence, according to the Santa Maria Police Department.

The five students had smoked synthetic marijuana, or Spice, authorities said.

“It has a lot of the same effect and symptoms as pot,” White said. 

Spice refers to a wide variety of herbal mixtures that produce experiences similar to marijuana and are marketed as safe, legal alternative to pot, according to to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Spice is sold under many names and labeled “safe for human consumption.”

Many cities have banned the sale of Spice and the military has ordered its member to avoid the drug although it is considered a legal substance.

Four of the students went to school where Principal Genevieve Beaird encountered one youth who was not making any sense, White said.

“It was very clear he was under the influence of something,” White said. 

School staff identified the other students who imbibed the drug and called their parents along with emergency crews and police.

The incident drew at least one truck from the Santa Maria Fire Department along with an American Medical Response ambulance.

Two students were taken from the school to Marian Regional Medical Center for assessment. A parent took a third student to the hospital.

Another student who suffered an anxiety attack also went to the hospital, White said.

As of 11:30 a.m., White said all four students had been released from the hospital.

Santa Maria police are investigating the incident, a sergeant said. 

The students who showed up at school while under the influence of a substance also may face discipline, but the consequence may be different for smoking the substance versus providing it to students, White added.

“The important thing is the kids got the medical attention needed and it wasn’t as serious as it could have been if the kids didn’t get the medical attention as soon as they did,” White said.

El Camino officials planned to issue an automatic call to all parents of students at the school to advise them of the incident, White added.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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