HOUSTON, TX - Kush-- it's a real problem in Houston! At Main and Wheeler, 'Kush Central' to many users, a woman was so high Thursday she was bashing her skull into the cement and didn't know it until after the fire department showed up .
But that's nothing new. Nearly half of all the 3000 drug overdose calls Houston Fire Department have received since September have been Kush-related.
"The things that people think that somebody overdoses on," explains Dr. David Persse, the city's EMS director, "Cocaine, heroine, and marijuana-- they're half way down the list." Kush got more EMS calls than alcohol, prescription drugs, cocaine and pot combined!
And that's why Mayor Turner announced a plan Thursday to take back the parks from the Kush-heads. He is starting by switching 175 HPD desk jobs over to beat patrol. He'll also add 13 more park rangers, and HPD will use overtime to add bike and golfcart patrols. METRO is pitching in, too, increasing police presence along the rail.
"Several parks, the downtown library, METRO rail stations and other areas are being taken over by people who are using drugs," says Turner. "They are scaring away families and taxing our Emergency Medical Services with their calls for help when they overdose."
That's what happened last week in Hermann Park. 16 people OD'ed on the synthetic marijuana. "That park is not where the Kush epidemic starts," says Anthony Curry who calls himself "a friend to the homeless." "It's all over Houston. It's not just downtown Houston. It's all over the United States now."
Kush (also known as K2, K3, Spice and Klimax) is basically any brand of so-called "potpourri" being sold to get people high. But most Houston homeless we talked to say the real problem isn't that cheap 'drug.'
"These people are seeing nothing but dead ends," explains David Hall, homeless for eight years, "and when they see dead ends, they look for a way out. Kush is their way out. It is a sedative that numbs the mind (and)takes away the problems of the world... for today."
Steven Curren, also living on the streets, agrees, "When it's a killing of a child, we come together and do vigils or something. But if it's a man out here dying of thirst, you won't pull over and give them a bottle of ice water."
Real problems. But for now, the city is focusing on the Kush epidemic and getting the stuff off the streets. It starts with the distributors, and acting police chief Martha Montalvo promises a development on that front within the next couple weeks.