Synthetic marijuana becomes growing concern in Houston area

Synthetic marijuana, often sold in colorful packets, can be deadly and has been a growing problem around Houston for years. Texas City Police now grapple with a bad batch of the drug. The big challenges, they say, are the drug is affordable and easy to find. But one man shares how the price tag isn't worth the side effects.

Twenty-two-year-old John Hipp's life hit a turning point eight months ago. He used to be addicted to packets often known as Spice or Cush. He knew if he didn't stop, one day he might never wake up.

"Every time it would happen I thought I was going to die. I would tell my family hey I think I'm dying and I would pray to God please. This would be the last time," Hipp said.

Today he's clean but the side effects of synthetic marijuana still linger.

"It destroys your kidneys. I have severe memory loss. I can't think of words to really say good," Hipp said.

Texas City Police say all it takes it takes is one bad batch. Like the one they saw last Thanksgiving, when they witnessed many people almost die.

"I believe the brand he smoked was Cush brand. I'm not sure what flavor it was. In one of the hallucinations he had, he thought that there were creatures under his skin, and took a knife and tried to remove the creatures," Allen Bjerke said.

A huge problem police run into is those who make the drug constantly change the chemicals, so it's hard to make it illegal.

"The most dangerous thing is we don't know what's in it. They've changed it so many times that we can't keep up with the manufacturers," Bjerke said.

John Hipp hopes through his struggle, telling his story can save others.

"I have a job longer than I've ever had one and I work at a furniture store. I've grown a lot since then," Hipp said.

Hipp credits his 12-step recovery program to his success. Police say it will take both new laws and education to get this drug off the streets.