UCM's Bob Welsh takes the lead in research on synthetic cannabinoids.

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This was the first of two UCM-sanctioned studies Welsh and his team performed. The results varied, with some subjects taking a long time to emerge from "a very dark place," to others who were disappointed because they "wanted to catch a buzz," Welsh said. Overall, he said the results were similar to the effects of marijuana -- but with a catch. He said outside of their study, there were reports of some people committing suicide or making choices that hurt other people after smoking the drug.

Welsh unwittingly became a test subject at the end of the first test when he experienced chest pains. He was taken to a cardiologist who dismissed a heart attack, saying his heart muscle was irritated. Welsh said they found the drug absorbs through the skin. Thus, they were more careful during the second test by not touching the material and improving ventilation.


"What I found out after this, I talked to a lot of cardiologists, we're having 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kids showing up in hospitals with cardiac arrest after smoking this stuff," Welsh said. "This is not weed. I hope if people will get anything from our study that it's not just cannabis. This stuff is a powerful group of research chemicals."

Welsh said the study was borne out of misinformation and confusion that people had about K2 because it was legal for some time. Also, police officers were seizing these colorful packages and were unsure what they had.

"There was virtually nothing on the Internet, anywhere, about this substance," Welsh said. He said they are now planning a third test to keep the research current as new compounds continue to hit the market.

Welsh manages the Breath-Alcohol Instrument Training program at the Safety Center, which in general, helps police combat drunk driving. This cannabinoid study complements that program, providing drug-testing laboratories with crucial information.

"The more substances that we can use, the better we create a list of what they have seen and how they are testing for those," Durbin said.

Welsh has worked at the Safety Center for 24 years and has run the BAIT program for 20. He becomes very animated, his face reddening and his gestures wild when he talks about his research on K2 and the loopholes the producers exploit to continue making the product. When asked why he's so passionate about the subject, Welsh looked inside for the answer.

"I don't know. I've got a 5-year-old, and God knows what substances will be around when he's 12 or 13," he said. "When I'm retired and gone, I want someone to say there are a lot of people alive today because (Bob Welsh) did his job."

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This article helped me to understand this substance better. I think it is important that people understand that this is not synthetic pot. I am grateful for UCM for getting this word out.

Good luck in getting the message out to the youth of today. They need the real truths to things around them not just what they hear from someone else, or some TV idol they think knows more that the experts. Keep up the great work.

Great article, with a lot of much-needed information. Anything to get the message across that this stuff is not to be played with, and that it is DANGEROUS. Good work, UCM folks...proud of you, Radar,(aka Bob Welsh).

Leep up the good work. We need someone like you to keep everyone informed. God Bless.

I have been a paramedic for 29 years, and your research would be great information to pass along to EMS. I also agree that it should be shown as a DVD in schools. I still remember the drug film I saw as a freshmen in high school. I came away from that thinking why would I ever want to try something that made me look like the people did on the film. I guess the film did what it was intended to do for me. Good luck and keep up the good work.

A great story and the truth about what our nation is facing. It is a problem out of control and taking away our greatest resource, young people.

So many kids think this is "safe" pot. Spice is so dangerous, and I am thankful that Mr. Welsh is working to inform as many people as possible of the dangers of this substance.

Wonderful article. Hope they will consider making films to be sent to schools to show kids the effects of these drugs.

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