Harlem DFW

Scientology’s secular group warns public of dangers associated with synthetic marijuana.

The Foundation for a Drug Free World, an organization backed and funded by the Church of Scientology, has been handing out information booklets that warn against the dangers of smoking synthetic marijuana, otherwise known on the street as K2 or Spice, whose abuse is on the rise in Harlem.

Church of Scientology member Sharron Garrett says volunteers distribute information booklets on drugs throughout Harlem twice a week. They recently handed out thousands of them at the train station on Lexington Avenue and 125th Street. According to the information booklet, K2 is dangerous because it is a designer drug whose chemical composition is continuously changing. It also has stories relating to those who actually smoked Spice, such as a mom who threw her own baby into a trashcan and upon being arrested by police she couldn't remember where she put him. A teenager tried to kill himself while another person found he couldn't move his legs after abusing the drug.

The number of hazardous reactions to K2 increased to 28,531 in 2013, according to official statistics, and 120 cases of drug overdose were reported in Austin and Dallas, during the course of one week alone. A garbage truck driver, under the influence of Spice, drove at 55 mph, cut across a road divider and killed a brother and sister; and in another incident, a 62-year-old jogger was run down by a 20-year-old driver who was also under the influence of synthetic marijuana.

The drug is available online under the guise of “incense” and marketed as legal for as low as $3 per gram. Commissioner Bill Bratton of the New York Police Department issued a public warning that it made people extremely dangerous, and the NYPD has also released two videos that back up this claim. In one of the videos, a user who was sprayed with mace after police officers struggled to restrain him still found the strength to run and scale a fence before being subdued. All the while being naked. The public has been asked to stay away from such people.

Officials say it is not only East Harlem where they deal with incidents of drug abuse, but also Central Brooklyn and the Bronx. Garrett adds that they handed out some 3,000 fliers at the African-American Day Parade, and that they want more people from the community to join them. They visited about 30 schools last year and are trying to persuade churches, community centers and local organizations to support the campaign. It is a secular program they believe is vital for the youth.

Scientologists do not use street drugs or psychotropic drugs because they are damaging to the mind, body, and spirit. Foundation for a Drug-Free World is the world’s largest nongovernmental anti-drug campaign. The Los Angeles Police Department collaborates with Foundation for a Drug-Free World and estimates over 2,000 youth in the city have completed the Truth About Drugs program.

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