A Nebraska mother urges the legislature to expand its ban on the chemical compounds used to make synthetic drugs, to prevent any more deaths, such as the one that rocked her family.
Kali Smith of Bellevue says she had little warning when her son Tyler came home last year that he would kill himself.
“You could tell he was not himself. There was nothing behind his eyes. He was blank,” Smith tells Nebraska Radio Network. “And he changed his clothes and he walked downstairs and he shot himself while we were in the living room.”
That was September 29th, 2012.
Smith says the family noticed some symptoms: withdrawal, headaches, anxiety. He had visited doctors. He had been tested. Nothing could be pinpointed.
After Tyler committed suicide, investigators found one packet of cherry-flavored herbal incense in his pocket. They found two more packets in his car, along with a pipe. The synthetic drugs, according to Smith, were determined to be the third or fourth generation of K2, synthetic marijuana.
Tyler’s drug of choice is legally sold in Nebraska.
“This is extremely important, because like I said, Tyler thought that because it was legal it wasn’t going to hurt him. All these kids believe that if it’s legal, they’re not doing anything wrong and they’re not doing anything that is going to harm them,” Smith says.
The Unicameral has taken on the issue in the past, approving legislation the past couple of sessions to ban certain chemical compounds used to manufacture synthetic drugs. The chemists simply go back to work, tweaking their formulas, getting around the law, making them legal.
Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha sponsors LB 298, which seeks to expand the list of banned chemical compounds in an effort to keep synthetic drugs from being sold legally in Nebraska. McCoy mentioned Kali and Tyler Smith during his address to the Unicameral opening debate on the bill. The legislature has approved an amended version of the bill, moving it into position for preliminary passage.
The Smith family has established the Tyler J. Smith Purple Project in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of synthetic drugs.
Tyler was only 18 when, high on synthetic drugs, he shot himself.
“It would be devastating if we as adults allow this product to continue to be legal,” Smith says.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]
AUDIO: Sen. Beau McCoy mentions Kali Smith during his opening on LB 298. [1:33]