Lethal and Legal: How to protect your kids from spice.

Synthetic marijuana has faced two bans on specific chemicals within the drug, but drug manufacturers continue to alter chemicals to make the drug legal once more.

A few months ago NewsChannel 15 received an anonymous letter from a concerned parent about their child using synthetic marijuana, also known as K2 or spice.

So we did some digging to find out how this drug can be legal, and what's being done to get it off the streets.

Ricky Kannegieser, 29, started smoking spice three years ago. He's recently sober after realizing that this drug was ruining his life.

"I started smoking this stuff and I would literally wake up every night half way through the night and get sick with my stomach in knots. I would literally smoke the stuff just to calm my stomach down to be able to feel better and go back to sleep," said Kannegieser.

Ricky's routine of smoking spice quickly evolved into an addiction.

He lost his job and motivation for life, all to spice.

"I was smoking two to three bags of this stuff a day. Spending 80 to 100 dollars a day on this stuff, because the tolerance for this stuff builds up quickly so the two or three times a day quickly escalates into you smoke it, and 15 to 20 minutes later, the high is gone and then you're smoking it again," said Kannegieser.

Spice is like most addictive drugs, dangerous. In fact, associate professor and practicing psychologist Dr. Viktoriya Magid at the Medical University of South Carolina, says it's one of the worst.

"Parents should know it's not just a legal substance of marijuana, it's can be very very dangerous,it can be lethal," said Magid.

Kannegieser says the drug isn't popular for it's dangers.

"It was legal, it was easily accessible," said Kannegieser. "It was cheaper, and it was more potent."

Former Surfside Beach Police Chief Mike Frederick says, "it's a sticky problem at a lot of different levels for police."

In October of 2011, spice was taken off the shelves in South Carolina when the Department of Health and Environmental Control banned three of the synthetic chemicals in the drug that mimic the effects of THC in marijuana.

In July 2012, Congress passed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Act of 2012. This banned more chemicals that make up spice and other synthetic drugs like bath salts.

Drug manufacturers have created new analogs of chemicals that create the same effects as those that are banned, but are different enough to escape the law.

"As soon as it becomes illegal they're working the same day to make something new that will pass the legislation and be legal," said Kannegieser.

Frederick says it's as little as three days before the new legal form of spice is back in the stores.

Spice is sold in smoke shops and on the internet. Although you have to be 18 to buy it, Dr. Magid says the majority of users are teens.

"For the most part we see 14,15,16, year olds who use it and they do smoke it," says Magid.

In 2011, Dr. Magid saw four new teens a week in her rehabilitation program at MUSC. Each one of them had said they had at least tried spice.

"They'll ship it right to your door for you," said Kannegieser.

"If I was a purchaser of K2 or spice, I could potentially end up with bags and bags and bags of it coming to my house, without even leaving my house," said Magid.

And in 2012 it's more of the same. "We still see there is a demand for it," said Magid.

Until the law can be proactive to this drug, Dr. Magid says parents need to make up for lapses in the law.

"They should not wait to confront their child, not wait to have a conversation with their child. It is a very dangerous substance, it is much more dangerous than marijuana," said Magid.

Dr. Magid's rehabilitation program at MUSC is called ASSET. It stands for Adolescent Substance use Skills Education Training.

For more information on the program you can call 843-742-5200.