Synthetic drug screenings now offered in Amarillo - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Area employers drug testing workers for synthetics

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Amarillo, TX - Law enforcement continues to work on bringing down the synthetic drug problem as it continues to grow throughout our area.

Now employers are joining in on the fight.

A new tool is being used to help keep our community safe.

Synthetic drugs have been known to slip under the radar in the past but now there's a quick way to detect them in area users.

The typical drug screening for street drugs is now expanding to meet the demand.

"This is actually a really big step and I'm sure they were at this place 20 years ago with cocaine. Now we're here with the synthetic narcotics," says Laviza Matthews, Impact Futures. 

The growing popularity of synthetics is why Gary's Heating and Air Conditioning in Amarillo will begin screening their employees.

"It's very much worth the safety of our customers," says Paula Ward, Owner, Gary's Heating and Air Conditioning.

This adds to their already long list of random drug testing which includes marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, PCP and steroids.

"So I called the company we use to do are screenings and I told her at that time definitely on our chart, on our account. Please put down that every employee we send over, new hire or any of our other employees, that we do want to include that. We just want to make sure we cover all of the basis," says Paula Ward, Owner, Gary's Heating and Air Conditioning.

They are one of several area employers trying this new tool.

Although it can be costly, Ward says the benefits are far-reaching.

"As a homeowner, definitely you want someone who comes into your home to be drug free, criminal free. Not a risk to you, your family, your children, your home," says Paula Ward, Owner, Gary's Heating and Air Conditioning.

K2 and bath salts are among some of the screenings now available to employers, since at least three drug companies in our area have noticed it is in demand.

"The K2 test does not test for THC, which is what we test for when looking for marijuana. K2 or spice is actually regular, normal everyday herbs sprayed with chemicals, which when inhaled is what causes the euphoric effect. So the K2 test actually tests for those specific chemicals that have been put into those herbs," says Holly Win gate, Active Drug Screening.

The process for K2 in-house testing is fairly quick, it just takes about 45 minutes.

Active drug screening says they've already had a few people test positive.

"Most specifically we've been doing testing on people who have either passed regular drug screens but are still not performing like they should be or people they have suspicions that have been doing it for one reason or another," says Holly Win gate, Active Drug Screening.

Just this past week Randall County searched a snow cone business and reportedly found synthetic marijuana inside.

Impact Futures says these new drug screenings will help keep those type of situations from happening.

"Their job performance is not just like with weed, they slow down their reactions and are not that quick. They can injure themselves. With synthetics, they can hurt somebody else, as well as themselves. They can destroy the whole production," says Laviza Matthews, Impact Futures.

Although synthetics are now illegal, Matthews says they are still being sold at head shops in our area.

This new tool also has the potential to open doors to more progress in the future.

"Having a field test that law enforcement can carry with them, that way when they send an informant into one of these head shops, make a buy, bring it back out, do a field test and if it has any of those things that have an affect on the CB1 receptors, then that's illegal. They can then issue a search warrant and go make another drug bust," says Laviza Matthews, Impact Futures.

This test now gives concerned parents the ability to have their child tested too.

Impact Futures says several area teens are currently in treatment centers for addiction after just one week of trying a synthetic drug.

"If you want a job and you want to keep it and you want to be successful, or you want to go to school...well if you're smoking this stuff, it's not going to happen," says Laviza Matthews, Impact Futures.