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      Synthetic marijuana testing difficult in court

      Testing for synthetic marijuana is difficult for several agencies including the juvenile probation office in Hidalgo County.

      Manufacturers who make the chemical-based drug are always changing the ingredients.

      It is one reason 449th State District Court Judge Jessie Contreras is looking for new tests on the market.

      "They are smoking chemicals that's what they are doing," he said.

      Teens are the most common users of synthetic marijuana.

      Judge Contreras said he's had problems in the past with drug testing that turned back negative results even after the teen admitted to using.

      He said the drug is dangerous and has some serious side-effects.

      "It's an aggressive drug that generates aggressive behavior, and I have a big concern with it," Contreras said.

      After Contreras raised his concern, the drug testing lab has switched to a new and improved test.

      Since he raised his concern the drug testing lab made a switch to a new test, which has turned back more positive tests.

      Palmer Drug Abuse counselor Chris Anderson understands Judge Contreras TM concern.

      He sees hundreds of teens who use synthetic marijuana each month.

      "It's the most abused drug by high school students second only to marijuana," he said.

      A simple Google search shows how accessible the drug can be.

      Websites sell an ounce for $50 dollars and claim the drug is legal.

      Synthetic marijuana is illegal in the State of Texas, but manufacturers change the combination of chemicals to bypass the law.

      "They are taking plants and they are treating it with various types of chemicals and frankly some of these chemicals haven't been tested," Anderson said.

      Synthetic marijuana proved dangerous when a McAllen teen recently tried it for the first time which landed her in the emergency room.

      Anderson said parents should be aware that the drug is dangerous and should look for signs of use.

      Signs include: -Red eyes-Irritability-Paranoia-Speech impairment-Hallucinations

      Teens and parents can seek drug abuse counseling for synthetic marijuana at the Palmer Drug Abuse Program in McAllen free of charge by calling 956-687-7714.