The parents of a California teen who died after taking one hit of synthetic pot are now raising awareness so others don't have to suffer the tragedy of losing loved ones to designer drugs, KTLA reported.
On July 11, Connor Reid Eckhardt, 19, inhaled a form of synthetic marijuana known as "Spice," which is made with plant materials that are sprayed with a blend of unknown chemicals.
Eckhardt slipped into a coma and suffered swelling of the brain. He died on July 19.
"In a moment of peer pressure, he gave into that, thinking that was OK, it was somehow safe, and one hit later, he goes to sleep and never wakes up," Devin Eckhardt, Connor's father, told KTLA.
Devin Eckhardt and his wife Veronica have since set up a Facebook page in their son's memory to warn others about the dangerous, yet legal, substance. They also fulfilled their son's wish by having Connor's organs donated.
"Spice" is often mistakenly used as a harmless alternative to marijuana. But the drug is sprayed with an unknown combination of chemicals with hazardous side effects, including seizures and heart attacks, according to the American Chemical Society.
"You can buy designer drugs of abuse at convenience stores and on the Internet," Dr. Andrew Monte, lead author of a New England Journal of Medicine editorial, told the Los Angeles Times. "People may not realize how dangerous these drugs can be- up to 1,000 times stronger binding to cannabis receptors when compared to traditional marijuana."
Others have reportedly died after smoking "Spice," including an 18-year-old boy who was found dead by his aunt at her Alaska home in Nov. 2013.
"So many people have messaged me that their loved ones died too," the parents wrote on Facebook according to the New York Daily News. "My son is gone forever...Something has to be done!!! Please share our story."