Doctors warn against legal drug 'potpourri'

By Stefanie

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - While the spotlight now shines on the ban of bath salts, Lowcountry E.R. doctors say there's another dangerous drug that is just as easy to come by. The legal drug known as 'potpourri' looks like marijuana, is smoked like marijuana, and gets you high like marijuana, but it's perfectly legal to buy.

Renee Coakley of North Charleston came home to her son hallucinating and vomiting on Friday after he told her he had smoked a 'potpourri' product known as 'Mr. Nice Guy.'

"It's not potpourri. This is potpourri. This is what potpourri looks like. Big chunks, nice smelling stuff you put in your house," said Coakley.

Her son, Jared Cotton, 14, admits to smoking the drug.

"Your heart keeps on pounding and you're seeing things and when you close your eyes it's hard for you to open them," said Jared Cotton.

Coakley says her son flipped over a bowl of soup during his hallucinations from his "high" and was rushed to the emergency room on Friday.

"My child now has 90% burns in his groin and penis area and he's going to have scars for the rest of his life because he was not in the right frame of mind to even eat a bowl of soup," said Coakley.

Side effects such as agitation, hallucinations, and psychotic effects from the potpourri substance known as 'legal weed' are problems doctors at Trident Medical Center's E.R. say they see far too often.

"It's become an incredibly serious problem," said Dr. Michael Masiowski, E.R. Physician at Trident Medical Center. "What we know is that we don't know a lot{}because no one puts the ingredients on the label."

Dr. Masiowski says they see at least one patient every two to three days suffering from potpourri side effects, and says the sale of the legal drug needs to be banned, and the use of it criminalized.

"This is bad stuff, and people need to understand that it's bad. "Just because you can buy it over the counter at a gas station doesn't mean it's safe," said Dr. Masiowski.

It's a message Jared's mom says she wants to help spread, to get the substance off the shelves.

"It's not potpourri, they can say it's potpourri but it's not. It's today's killer in teenagers in America and it needs to go," said Renee Coakley.

It's also a warning her son gives, that he had to learn the hard way.

"They shouldn't touch it, they shouldn't even hold it because it can kill you," said Jared Cotton. "Don't even touch it because I made a mistake."