COLONIAL HEIGHTS, VA (WWBT) - It is a community taking a stand. In Colonial Heights people from all walks of life, gathered with the goal of finding a way to stop the spread of synthetic marijuana or "spice".
This meeting was borne out of a story by our investigative reporter Rachel DePompa. She uncovered several Colonial Heights stores peddling different versions of the dangerous drug.
It was enough to swing the community into action.
It started with protests in front on some of those stores, with families impacted by the drug yelling things like, "Spice is poison!"
It has now moved into meetings like one Thursday night at the local library, where the parent of a child hooked on spice had something similar to say.
"This stuff is poison," she told the group. "Whatever it takes to get it out of here!"
The meeting drew a packed house of passionate people begging officials to find a way to stop the spread of spice. That same woman told the crowd that the drug is destroying her son's life and ruining her family.
"He has walked away from his faith," she said. "Our family has collapsed."
Throughout the night speakers just like that mom found common ground on this difficult topic. The dangers of a drug that is so prevalent in Colonial Heights that it can easily be bought over the counter at neighborhood convenience stores.
And it is a problem that doesn't just impact young people. Another woman told the story of her husband who started using after an injury. He is in his forties.
"He's had three relapses," he said. "His last relapse was in August."
Because spice is so new everything is more difficult. For instance it is hard to find and prosecute because the technology and funding lag behind the need.
"That requires more money to buy field tests for the court services for the juveniles or community services for the adults to be able to test these individuals," said a local official.
But this town refuses to give in and vowed tonight to continue the conversation until they conquer the threat.
Thursday night's meeting included substance abuse specialist, representatives from the Commonwealth's Attorney's office and the Colonial Heights Police Department.