Waging War on Synthetic Drugs

Drug Overdoses on the Rise in Duluth

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Synthetic drugs are illegal and we all saw first-hand the seriousness of the issue when Jim Carlson, Owner of Last Place on Earth, was sentenced to 17.5 years in prison for selling the drugs.

Despite it all, it’s not stopping people from getting their hands on the deadly chemicals.

On Monday evening Duluth Police responded to a call in which two people overdosed on synthetics, the man even went into a medical seizure.

Authorities believed they had curbed the problem last year.

“When the Last Place on Earth closed down it was a huge victory for the city and the community,” said Lieutenant Jeff Kazel with Duluth Police Department.

Neighboring business, ShelDon Print and Design, said having Carlson’s store closed has created a ripple effect of relaxation and relief.

“There is a lot more activity on the street as far as normal activity on the street and not law breaking activity on the street. People aren’t crossing and walking on the opposite side of the street anymore, they will actually walk by our business,” said ShelDon’s Senior Account Executive Jeanette Herubin.

With or without Jim Carlson, synthetics continue to spread throughout the community.

The chemicals, like cannabinoids, can be purchased online from research companies.

“It’s not wannabe weed, what it is, is a leafy substance that they spray chemical on and people smoke it, but it’s the chemical that is the problem,” said Kazel.

In the past three years local emergency responders have been called to a rise in drug overdoses.

“It (synthetics) can cause seizures, ER visits where people are being incubated where they are sticking tubes down their throats to keep them breathing. It’s not something you want to mess around with,” said Kazel.

Statistics reveal there were 17 overdose calls for all drugs in Duluth in 2013. That number jumped to 26 in 2014 and to date in 2015, 35 overdoses.

The most significant increase involves heroin.

In 2013 there were 13 overdoses for the entire year on heroin, to date in 2015 – 26 cases.

Authorities tell Fox21 it is at an all-time high.

“We make lots of heroin arrests, there are heroin O.D.’s that happen all the time,” said Kazel.

As with most drugs the potency is never the same from batch to batch.

“With heroin if you take too much, it’s too late, your body shuts down,” said Kazel.

Duluth Police are no stranger to the day to day fight against illegal drugs but the battle wages on despite the city’s major drug pipelines, Last Place on Earth, shutting its doors for good. 

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