This post originally appeared on VICE UK.
Synthetic cannabis is big in Britain's prisons. It doesn't show up in piss tests, it doesn't smell anywhere near as pungent as the real stuff, and it's a very time- and cost-effective way of getting fucked up—though it does have the undesirable potential to make inmates shit themselves or attack stationary objects.
Now, the BBC reports, prison officers have started to get involuntary hallucinations off the legal high—often branded "spice"—after entering cells where inmates have recently been smoking it.
Staff members at HMP Holme House in Stockton, Teesside, have reportedly been getting hysterical, emotional, and dizzy, while also having to deal with the Spice-driven increase of violence among inmates.
Andy Baxter, the chairman of the Prison Officers Association at Holme House, said: "We had an officer who we believe was exposed to it. During the night he said he got a fierce burning sensation in his head which felt like his head was covered with nits, and spent the night tearing at the top of his head."
A former inmate told the BBC: "I've seen lads going berserk on it, turning on their best mates, and fighting over it. I've also seen it where lads have dropped down dead, had heart attacks, gone into comas, gone loopy, and ended up being sectioned because of it."
A Prison Service spokesperson said: "Governors use sniffer dogs, cell searches, and mandatory drugs tests to find drugs in prison and punish those responsible. We have also passed laws so that people who smuggle packages over prison walls, including drugs, face up to two years in prison. However, it's clear we need to do more. The Justice Secretary has asked the Ministry of Justice to look at how we can ensure prisons have the right tools in place to tackle this problem."