At least eight school children have collapsed after using fake cannabis oil vapes in Greater Manchester. The pupils thought they were buying vapes that contained THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical that causes the ‘high’ in cannabis. However, tests have proved the vapes did not contain THC. Some contained the same chemical used to make Spice, which was outlawed in 2016, while others contained no psychoactive substance at all.
Since February there have been at least a dozen incidents, involving 17 young people, in the region. All have become unwell after unwittingly vaping liquid containing Spice. Experts have warned it could have serious consequences for young people and may even kill.
Greater Manchester Drug Alerts Panel issued a warning to secondary school age children from Bury, Rochdale and Oldham to avoid products sold as ‘THC’. Over the past 2 months, the panel said three schools in Oldham and another in Bury had seen ambulances called out to several pupils. One student in Oldham also suffered a seizure. The panel said several young people at an educational facility in Bury, outside of mainstream schooling, also became heavily intoxicated, while a young person in Rochdale collapsed after allegedly being forced to inhale a vape.
According to The Independent, 30 samples from small bottles were tested in November and December. Seven contained spice while none contained THC or cannabis oil. Of the other 23 samples, one contained such a high concentration of THC it qualified as a Class B drug.
Greater Manchester Drug Alerts Panel brings together Greater Manchester Police, the NHS, local authorities and drug user support agencies. Michael Linnell, who coordinates the multi-agency panel, said the children were taking a big risk. “If they inhale spice they risk the very bad reaction we have now seen on at least a dozen occasions. The effects of the drug for someone not used to taking spice are very dangerous, unpredictable, and may even be fatal.”
The effects of spice can include an irregular heartbeat, confusion, paranoia, panic attack, insomnia, hallucinations and collapse. Schools, youth services and professionals who work with children across Greater Manchester have been asked to report any more suspected cases.
Greater Manchester Police’s Chief Superintendent Paul Savill said: “Suppliers of illegal and dangerous vaping products are recklessly targeting children and the vulnerable, and we need the public’s help to identify these suppliers and bring them to justice.”