CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) – Synthetic marijuana may be illegal, but teens are still using it to get high.
"It's really difficult. It's a bad drug," Derrick Hammond said.
Hammond was hooked with his first taste of K2, better known as synthetic marijuana. Now several years later, the 17-year-old struggles to kick an old habit.
"You just start to fiend for it eventually like I did. I would be sitting in school and just waiting to get out so I could smoke it," he said.
Addiction to K2, also known as spice, is a problem Dr. Viktoriya Magid commonly treats with teens at the Medical University of South Carolina's therapy program, Adolescent Substance use Skills Education Training (ASSIST).
"A few years ago I started to see a surge in synthetic marijuana abuse," Magid said.
Although synthetic marijuana is illegal, teens like Hammond say the drug is easy to find.
"The active ingredients have been outlawed and banned in most states. The ban continues to incorporate newer ingredients. However the law is always behind the makers of synthetic marijuana," Magid said.
"You can buy it online can have shipped to your house," Hammond said.
It is not just easy access that tempts teens, but also the high. While it may be short a fix compared to authentic marijuana, Hammond said the experience is much different.
"When I first started trying it, I was 3,000 times higher than I ever been," he said.
Hammond's mother has her own word of advice.
"It's just so accessible," Amy Bailey said. "Just watch and watch them. Second guess everything they tell you even if they hate it."
As for Hammond, his rehabilitation will continue away from Charleston where he will be treated for multiple addiction problems.