MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Synthetic pot is the latest drug being marketed to teens over the Internet. It's a chemical brew that is legal, but can be fatal.
"My son was the light my life," said Deanna Dyer, mother of Dakota Dyer.
According to Deanna, Dakota was full of life and promise. But, Deanna and her husband Lance had their lives shattered when they came home to find their youngest child and only son had shot himself.
"What did I miss? What red flag did I not see as a father?" Lance Dyer wondered.
"Never saw signs, never saw symptoms, never saw anything," Deanna said.
A review of the 14-year-old's Facebook posts and text messages show Dakota was planning to try synthetic marijuana just says before he died.
"When you can have a normal, happy, popular, loved life child die and within hours just change his perception of the world?" Deanna said.
The Dyers are just one of dozens of parents whose children have died or were seriously harmed after using some form of synthetic drug.
"The drug can act differently with different people. One person can take it and they are OK. Another person can take the exact same drug and they have a psychotic episode and can’t deal with reality," Deanna said.
This so-called fake pot is created with various chemical compounds and is designed to mimic the effects of marijuana. Officials say it is commonly marketed under names like "K2" or "Bob's Bud." The drugs — marketed over the internet and social media — come in colorful packaging adorned with cartoons and sometimes labeled as incense. Many parents have no idea what their kids are buying.
"After the loss of my son, I would definitely, definitely, even though I didn't have a reason to, I would monitor. Monitor cell phone activity, monitor social media," Deanna said.
"It's not to invade your child privacy, it's protecting your child," Lance said.
U.S. Postal Inspectors say they're seeing more of these cases as children purchase the drugs over the internet and receive them in mail.
"Don't assume that is not a dangerous substance. In the end, it is likely to be chemicals imported from China to people who have no idea what the substances are and you have no idea what these chemicals will be when they are ingested into your body," U.S. Postal Inspector John Bailey said.
Manufacturers are constantly coming up with new chemical formulas to get around federal and state laws. The Dyer family is pushing for a nationwide law that would ban all forms of synthetic pot and prosecute those who make it. While some are being made in some cities and states, including in Wisconsin, the Dyer's say strong federal laws is needed to help law enforcement stay ahead of chemists trying to dodge the law.