Drug users pick up flakka, butane hash oil
It seems some students are passing on the pot and picking up new habits. Although marijuana remains the most-used drug at UCF, new-age drugs have sparked millenials' attention.
Butane hash oil
Butane hash oil, or "budder," is a gooey wax-like substance that is created when parts of a cannabis, or marijuana, plant are soaked in a solvent, such as butane. This is done to extract a more potent kind of THC, the chemical that gives the plant its psychoactive quality. The substance can either be smoked, ingested or vaporized, also known as dabbing.
On May 8, it was announced that UCF Police busted three college students in Knights Circle who were making butane hash oil in their apartment, and were then evicted from their room. From a previous interview with the Central Florida Future, UCF PD public information officer Courtney Gilmartin said UCF Police collected more than 100 pieces of evidence and $2,500 in cash in the apartment room.
Among the 82 different charges one of the roommates was arrested for, he was found in possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis, possession of hash oil and possession of a stolen driver's license. Upon searching a public Instagram account, detectives discovered multiple photos of hash oil and cannabis.
Because the butane hash oil is highly concentrated, users could get burned or inhale benzene or other dangerous chemicals. The drug is also highly flammable, which could lead to explosions.
Another dangerous drug called alpha-PDP, or flakka, is also on the rise in the area. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the drug is similar to other synthetic cathione drugs, or bath salts, and is surging in Florida.
Flakka is a substance that looks like small rocks and produces surges of euphoria and hallucinations that often leads to violent outbursts and self-injury. It can either be smoked, snorted, injected, swallowed or used in an e-cigarette or vape.
The drug can produce powerful hallucinogenic effects, similar to those from bath salts, and can cause muscle tissue to decompose into the blood stream. It has been linked to deaths by suicide as well as heart attack, and can dangerously raise the body temperature and lead to kidney damage or failure, according to NIH.
UCF police officer Peter Stephens said there have not been any flakka cases around campus, but he said he's sure the drug is out in the Orlando area and will eventually make it into the news.
Despite these new contenders making an appearance on the playing field, the most popular drug in the area continues to be marijuana.
Stephens said that since Jan. 1, there have been 36 drug arrests, 34 involving marijuana. The contact rate for drug offenses has remained steady, but Stephens said the UCF Police Department often sees an increase in calls when students return to campus for Summer B and fall classes.
"If anyone thinks that drug use is no big deal, check the number of stories that are out there about the self-destructive nature of drugs," Stephens said, referring to the example of Len Bias, a University of Maryland basketball player who died of a cocaine overdose after using the drug only once. "And then there's always the zombie face-eating drug user stories. Those are the ones that really scare me."
In a video segment in a press release, UCF police chief Richard Beary said the marijuana that is being used today is highly synthesized and dangerous.
"This is not your grandfather's marijuana," he said in the video of a press conference. "This is not a couple of percentage points of THC. We don't know what the long-term effects are on the human body."
Although these drugs are seen in the news for their negative effects, there are students on campus who are trying to push people to see a different side to some popular paraphernalia, like marijuana.
"Honestly, there are a lot of arguments for it. Marijuana has a million different uses. It can be the most therapeutic thing," said Sade Ameyemi, a junior business management major and president of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws at UCF.
Ameyemi grew up with a mother battling cancer and said she became interested in the medicinal effects of the drug.
NORML's mission is to educate people about marijuana and the effect it has on the human body, as well as support the drug's legalization.
Those critical of the drug should do their research before forming an opinion, Ameyemi said.
"There are regulations to it. It's not like children are going to be smoking, because you're going to have to go to a dispensary or a pharmacy or a store to get that," she said. "It's more on the streets now when it's illegal, and that's when kids want it."
She also said it's disappointing that people would associate these new dangerous drugs with marijuana.
"Some people see it as a gateway drug, but it's a medicine in my opinion," she said. "They're totally unrelated. Comparing them would be like comparing apples to pizza."
Deanna Ferrante is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.