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      Accused police property vandal says synthetic marijuana is to blame

      A man accused of spray painting graffiti on Surfside Beach police cars and their building says synthetic marijuana made him do it.

      Surfside Beach police charged Daniel Richard Krantz, 21, with three counts of malicious damage to property after he turned himself into police Saturday.

      Police provided surveillance video which they say shows Krantz running toward their building earlier this month, along with pictures taken by police of the graffiti he's accused of painting on police property.

      Surfside Beach police chief Mike Frederick said they initially thought the graffiti was gang related, but now do not believe that to be the case.

      Synthetic marijuana is illegal in South Carolina, after DHEC banned it last year, but some people are still using it and suffering the effects.

      A new report shows many more patients, especially young people, are showing up in emergency rooms around the country with bad reactions to using the drug.

      The drug is often called K2, Spice, or Blaze. It's usually sold at gas stations and convenience stores, until the chemicals involved in its manufacture were banned last year.

      A newly released report in the journal Pediatrics says doctors need to be on alert for the symptoms of its use, because it does not show up on drug tests for marijuana.

      "The kids like it because they think they're using something that you can't detect on a blood or urine screen, the typical tox screen," said Dr. Tom Tallman, an emergency room physician at Cleveland Clinic, who did not participate in the study.

      Symptoms of synthetic marijuana use include restlessness, excessive sweating, inability to speak and aggression. Bad reactions to the drug led to more than 6,900 calls to poison control centers nationwide last year.

      A counselor at Shoreline Behavioral Services in Conway said researchers know that it's harmful, but don't know much about the drug, compared to regular marijuana.

      "Potentially, it could be more dangerous and right now, there's some early signs that you're seeing people act a bit more erratic after using synthetic marijuana than we typically see with people using regular marijuana," said Raphael Carr, Shoreline's director of prevention services.

      Carr said it's good that synthetic pot is now illegal, but the drug may still be easier for teens to get than regular marijuana. He said parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing and ask questions.

      "If you see something that looks out of the norm, question it. Don't assume it's all innocent, don't assume that it's OK," Carr said.

      Horry County police say they haven't seen any of the drug on store shelves since it was banned last year and a check by NewsChannel 15 showed only one or two people have shown up in local emergency rooms after using the drug.

      But Carr said 29 patients have come through Shoreline claiming to have used synthetic marijuana, just since the agency started tracking it last October, so he said it is a growing problem in South Carolina.

      Since the law was changed last year, anyone convicted of possessing fake pot could get up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine in South Carolina.