The bad news is that more people again are ending up at Salina Regional Health Center’s emergency department after smoking chemically laced potpourri.

The good news is that we know how to deal with this problem.

… Dr. Keir Swisher said that four years ago when potpourri was just beginning to be popular here, the ER could see 20 cases a week. A vigorous public education campaign and strong law enforcement helped tamp down the threat.

Now, the ER is seeing five to 10 cases a week, Swisher said, with most of those in the 16- to 25-year-old range. In the past six weeks, the ER has seen about 60 people from smoking potpourri, with about 95 percent of those arriving by ambulance, “either seizing, convulsing or unconscious, in a coma.” …

Swisher and I-135/I-70 Drug Task Force Commander Bill Cox also said what’s on the street now is more potent that what was seen four years ago.

Those now using potpourri either were too young to know about the dangers exposed by the first wave of the drug, weren’t paying attention or don’t care, but this is serious. Four years ago, a local young man died when, under the influence of the drug, he ran out onto the interstate and was struck by a vehicle.

Over the years, the Journal has held to a fairly liberal and commonsense stance when it comes to drug use. It’s a personal choice. But in this instance, we’re not talking about smoking some marijuana or having a beer or two. Smoking potpourri can cause immediate and severe consequences.

What we need now is exactly what has happened before — education. When it comes to drug use, people tend to respond far better to credible information than they do to threats of prison.

Dr. Swisher and the police are to be commended for sounding the alarm. Parents need to do their part, too. Talk to your children.

As with other threats, the better the relationship you have with your children, the more you discuss rather than use scare tactics and threats, the better chance we have to once again to protect our young adults and community.

— The Salina Journal