Crime & Justice

5 arrested for distributing artificial marijuana 'spice' on Skid Row

File: A man prepares to smoke
File: A man prepares to smoke "Spice," a synthetic marijuana drug, along a street in East Harlem on Aug. 5, 2015 in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Five people have been arrested for distributing and selling the drug spice in the Skid Row area of Downtown Los Angeles, the LAPD announced Thursday. There were two mass overdoses on Skid Row recently in which more than 50 people were taken to the hospital, as well as other overdoses affecting the homeless population in recent months.

The use of spice has significantly increased in recent months, according to an LAPD release. Spice uses synthetic cannabinoids, an artificial drug sprayed on plants then smoked like marijuana, and it's far cheaper and more potent than natural marijuana.

"These arrests are significant due to the fact that these individuals targeted the homeless residents of Skid Row by providing an inexpensive alternative to other drugs that in many cases caused the user to develop life threatening side effects," the release stated.

The drug can also cause serious side effects, according to the release, including loss of consciousness, paranoia, tachycardia and psychotic episodes.

The LAPD made the arrests Wednesday around 12 p.m.. They were arrested near Fifth Street and San Pedro Street for possessing spice for sale. They also identified a South L.A. location as a possible place where spice was manufactured before being distributed on Skid Row.

Authorities served a search warrant at the location and investigators recovered money, controlled substances and other chemicals used in the making of spice. The investigation is ongoing, according to the LAPD.