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Teens overdose on jimson weed

Wed., June 17, 2009, 4:45 p.m.

Three Spokane teens have recently overdosed on the seeds of a hallucinogenic plant called jimson weed.

Health officials want to warn teenagers and their parents about the possible dangers of jimson weed now that the school year is over and many children are left home alone.

Spokane Regional Health District spokeswoman Julie Graham said people should be wary of jimson weed’s toxicity.

Jimson weed is also commonly called loco weed, stinkweed and a host of other slang terms such as angel’s trumpet and Beelzebub’s Twinkie. The plant’s scientific name is datura stramonium, a member of the nightshade plant family.

Though the plant reportedly has medicinal uses for maladies including asthma, medical experts say the plant’s seeds, leaves and flowers are dangerous and should not be eaten, smoked or brewed into a tea.

There have been deaths linked to consumption of jimson weed, including a teen in New Mexico last year.

The plant has foul-smelling leaves, prickly fruit and purple or white trumpet-shaped flowers. It grows wild – up to about 5 feet tall – throughout the country, including Washington and Idaho.

Health officials urge parents to address other risks their children may face, including keeping guns locked away separately from ammunition; locking up prescription medicine, alcohol, over-the-the-counter drugs and even natural supplements; and discussing sexual safety.

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