Danea Stanley felt like she had been dropped off at Starbucks a mere 15 minutes earlier. But as her mother drove her home from Akron Children’s Hospital on Saturday evening, the 15-year-old Louisville resident realized it had been more than 50 hours. The hazy memories she has from the preceding two days terrified her.
Danea Stanley felt like she had been dropped off at Starbucks a mere 15 minutes earlier.
But as her mother drove her home from Akron Children’s Hospital on Saturday evening, the 15-year-old Louisville resident realized it had been more than 50 hours. The hazy memories she has from the preceding two days terrified her.
She took a puff of something at a party Sept. 20. She thought it was marijuana.
The next thing she remembers is waking up.
“I felt like I was dying, right there,” she said. “I had no idea where I was or what I was doing.”
She saw a window and considered jumping out. Then everything went black again.
Danea had smoked jimson weed, a common plant (Datura stramonium) that produces hallucinatory effects when ingested. Taken in large enough quantities, it can kill.
Jimson weed has been a recurring problem for several years for patients coming through the doors at Akron Children’s, a hospital spokeswoman said.
This year, the hospital has had numerous cases, including four from the group Danea was partying with Sept. 20.
In 2006, about 12 of the 370 poisoning cases at the hospital were Jimson-weed-related.
The plant, which produces white flowers, typically grows in “cultivated fields, waste areas, barnyards, abandoned pastures, roadsides and feedlots,” according to a Purdue University Web site.
Also referred to as “loco weed” or “stink weed,” Jimson weed is as poisonous to animals as it is humans. Though the entire plant is toxic, kids generally ingest the seeds, which are contained in a prickly pouch that looks similar to the green casing of a buckeye.
“During this time of year, Jimson weed ingestion and intoxication is relatively common within our region,” said Dr. Michael Reed, director of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at Akron Children’s Hospital.
“One of the primary reasons children experiment with Jimson weed is for the perceived hallucinatory effects,” Reed said. It also causes “anxiety, agitation, delirium, disorientation, which can in fact lead to an individual becoming paranoid, having psychosis.”
“All of these types of side effects can also affect the heart, the skin. Patients may have a fever, appear flushed, have a rapid heart rate,” he said.
He said it can produce “very serious symptoms that could be life-threatening.”
The physical signs and side effects will be immediately recognized by a physician, he said. “The question would be, ‘What’s causing that?’ Coming in like this at this time of year, there’s a high suspicion of Jimson weed.”
Danea and her mother, Rebecca Stanley, agreed to talk about Jimson weed in hopes of alerting others to the dangers.
Parents should be on the lookout for “blown pupils,” Rebecca Stanley said.
“There’s no clue (that kids are high on Jimson weed) other than their actions,” she said. “But their pupils are a dead giveaway. If you look in these kids’ eyes, you know right away.”
Uniontown police got a call around 8 p.m. Sept. 20 that a drunk male was in the road. He was among the four in Danea’s group who would later be hospitalized.
When police arrived, the man was sitting in the middle of the road and was “talking in a way that did not make sense,” according to the police report. Officers asked the man, 18, what he had in his pockets. He removed a round, plant-like ball with small spikes.
Danea said that when they smoked the plant -- which a member of her party had yanked from the soil near a mailbox post -- it looked like old marijuana. It was brown.
“Probably what happened is some kid went online and looked up plants you can ingest to get a high from, and somehow or another, they found out about this Jimson weed,” said Uniontown Police Chief Don C. Hensley.
Hensley said the plant doesn’t produce an instant buzz, so users often don’t think they’ve had enough.
“They ingest more,” he said. “Then they (overdose) from it and end up going to the hospital.”
Danea would later find out that she ate some of the plant after smoking it that evening. At one point in the hospital, she thought a rocking chair was talking.
“Sometime during Saturday, I remember knowing I was hallucinating but everything looked so real,” she said.
While in the hospital, her wrists were restrained. After she’d been released Saturday evening, she became temporarily convinced that her mother was going to harm her and that a man was hiding in her closet.
She had never heard of Jimson weed before Thursday.
Some area school officials said they weren’t familiar with it, either. Those who have haven’t had issues with it.
It’s now different at Lake High School. Two of the students with Danea that night are Lake students.
Principal Jeff Wendorf said it’s a first for the school.
“We certainly want to make sure our kids are safe,” he said. They are dealing with the problem on a case-by-case basis. “We’re trying to get a hold of kids who are talking about it and are trying to educate them.”
Reach Canton Repository writer Joseph Gartrell at (330) 580-8561 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
JIMSON WEED SIDE EFFECTS
Abnormal heart rhythms
Source: Akron Children’s Hospital