Parents are frightened by an easily accessible drug that many have never even heard of. Stacy Huberty of Hastings, Minnesota learned of synthetic marijuana in a very disturbing way. She received a call from her daughter that her 14-year-old son, Sam, had passed out on the bathroom floor after trying it once. She rushed to the hospital where he had been taken.
"It was extremely scary," Huberty recalled. "I reached over to touch his arm, and he was just cold and clammy. I didn't know if he was going to die."
After spending five hours with Sam in the emergency room, the distraught mom spoke to a police officer who was in the hospital's hallway. Hoping to hold someone accountable for giving her teenager this harmful substance to smoke, Huberty asked the officer what he knew about synthetic marijuana. The officer's response "floored" her.
"There is nothing that can be done," she says he told her, "it's not an illegal substance to have" and "no charges could be filed."
Her painfully-shy son remembers the moment that nearly cost him his life, and the simple question from his cousin that sparked his decision.
"He asked me if I wanted to get high, and I said yeah," Sam Huberty said. "He was like, 'It's kind of like pot. It's legal.'"
Though they may be powerless, police departments around Minneapolis say they are angry that so many of their young people are ending up in the hospital, often suffering from seizures.
"It is very frustrating to us, because there is nothing we can do about it," said Det. Dan Schoen of the Cottage Grove Police Department. "They are not going to stop selling it until they absolutely are forced to."
Paul Hausladen has a ready warning for parents.
"The people that are buying it have no idea how strong it is," he said. "I don't want anyone to go down the same path I went down."