BOISE – Teenagers in southwest Idaho are ending up in the hospital after experimenting with a hallucinogenic plant common in the region, police say.
Ada County sheriff’s Detective Ryan Pacheco said the teens are eating seeds from moonflowers, a plant often found along canals and irrigation banks.
“It’s really scary stuff,” Pacheco said at a news conference Thursday. “This plant has been around for a long time. These things go through cycles, and right now it’s something new for the kids to try.”
Authorities said the seeds produce a sense of euphoria followed by hallucinations, fever, nausea, dizziness and short-term memory loss.
Pacheco said the symptoms can last for days and can lead to bizarre, violent behavior. He said that last week, a Meridian boy who had eaten moonflower seeds was found walking around his neighborhood and talking to himself.
Pacheco said the boy “freaked out” when police touched him, and it required four officers to get him into an ambulance.
“It causes a lot of excitement and euphoria, then it turns on you very quick,” Pacheco said. “You become very agitated, very angry, very violent.”
Moonflower is also called datura, and is a form of jimson weed. It is used to kill other weeds along canal banks. It is also common along roads and pastures, and is called moonflower because the plant’s flowers open at night.
Police said moonflower is a legal plant, but they are trying to educate teens about its dangers.
“After the first few kids ended up in the emergency room, we did a lot of talking with the student body at my school,” said Pacheco, a school resource officer at Eagle and Eagle Academy high schools.
Police have also talked to homeowners and plant sellers.
“I’ve had a great response from the nurseries and greenhouses that I’ve talked to,” Pacheco said. “A lot of them have agreed not to sell it anymore.”
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