Police, family, feds hold candid conversation about designer drug dangers

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By Kendall Downing

GREENWOOD, Ind. - Synthetic drugs are new, dangerous, and deadly. Tuesday night parents, students, and police in Greenwood had a candid conversation after the death of 16-year-old Samuel Motsay.

He died in May after using the drug known as N-bome.

One by one, people of all ages filed into Greenwood Christian Church to hear a message from a mother still reeling from the death of her son, Sam.

"You death has left a hole in our lives, but I'm here tonight at the sheriff's forum, because young people and adults can learn from your death, "said Jeanine Motsay, "Sam, what you took was by no means safe. I wish I could've told you."

Samuel Motsay had taken N-bome with two other friends. It's a manufactured substance the DEA likens to LSD and ecstasy. It comes in powder form and is commonly sold on blotter paper, marketed to teens as a new way to get high with the nickname smiles.

"Us in the law enforcement field are still a little bit unfamiliar with some of these new drugs that are out there," said Doug Cox, Johnson County Sheriff, "Hopefully this will help even us to gain a new perspective.

Cox and the Johnson County Sheriff's Office hosted the forum to coincide with the start of the new school year. Cox said the goal now is educating parents on these new and deadly types of drugs, so they can have pointed conversations with their children.

"Making a death notification to a mother and a step-father that their 16-year-old son died on Mothers' Day, that was one too many deaths in Johnson County for me, so that's one of the reasons why we're doing what we're doing, hoping not to have this happen again," said Cox.

Much of the N-bome substance comes from China and makes its way into the United States. It's relatively inexpensive, which is why it appeals to teenagers.

The Drug Enforcement Agency scheduled three forms of N-bome last November after 19 deaths, calling it an imminent hazard to public safety. The agency is currently investigating the sources of N-bome.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Indiana want to strengthen laws regarding synthetic drugs.

"We will be proposing this year that is dealing pot is a felony, then dealing spice is a felony. That's what we will be proposing, strengthening the law right now, because right now dealing spice is just a misdemeanor," said State Senator Jim Merritt.

Jeanine Motsay said her family will be setting up an awareness campaign and website they hope will go live later this month. She will also speak at another special drug forum in Hamilton County on Thursday August 28th at 7 p.m. at the Hamilton County 4H Fairgrounds.