Alarming Trend? Young People Smoking Pot-Free Herbal Incense

Rockland Man Hospitalized, Woman Briefly Loses Use Of Legs

NANUET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — They bought it at the mall, and it put them in the hospital – so-called “herbal incense,” which some people smoke to get high.

But in this case it made three teenagers sick, and one of them landed in intensive care, reports CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

It’s a pot-free herbal blend that looks like marijuana and it’s smoked like marijuana, despite the warning on the package reading “not for human consumption.”

WCBS 880’s Catherine Cioffi: The Packaging Says It’s Not To Be Smoked

“That’s pretty much the appeal. It won’t come up on a drug test,” said Rockland County resident Brian Quinn, who added when asked if it gets people high, “Yeah, yeah it does.”

Aiello spoke to some 20-somethings on Tuesday. They said you can find it at many smoke shops, so-called “fake pot,” marketed, legally, as herbal incense.

One brand called “Atomic Bomb” was sold last weekend at the Palisades Mall — with dangerous results.

Herbal incense

Herbal incense is becoming the new fake drug of choice in some Tri-State Area communities. (Photo: CBS 2)

“We have two serious cases, and we’re expecting we might have more out there if people don’t stop this,” Clarkstown Police Sgt. Harry Baumann told Aiello.

Clarkstown Police had their first case on Saturday, with an emergency response to the mall parking garage. Police answered a call of a young man with difficulty breathing. When they got to the mall they realized he was pretty messed up.

“When we responded, he was combative, and, obviously, was high on something,” Sgt. Baumann said.

Friends told cops the 19-year-old had been smoking “Atomic Bomb.” He spent the weekend in intensive care with breathing trouble and other symptoms.

Then on Sunday cops aided two young women who’d been smoking the same herbal incense. One temporarily lost the use of her legs.

“She was breathing but couldn’t move her body,” Sgt. Baumann said.

The Rockland Council on Alcoholism and other Drug Dependence said the product is marketed as 100 percent legal in all 50 states. Director Ruth Bowles said she’s worried about the product’s easy availability.

“Young people especially think it’s benign. They don’t understand the harmful effects on their bodies,” Bowles said.

It’s fake pot, considered by many to be a real threat. Sergeant Tim O’Neil said the packaging specifically said it should not be smoked, but still, teens are doing it.

“It just says it’s a novelty collector’s item, and, to tell you the truth, the smell inside isn’t all that great. So, I don’t who would be using this for incense, but that’s how they’re selling it,” says O’Neil. “It’s scary and it’s also scary that it’s legal. We can’t even charge anybody.”

Last month the Drug Enforcement Administration told herbal incense makers to stop using certain chemicals. Most claim they’ve reformulated their product to meet the new guidelines.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

More from Tony Aiello
  • Anne Rawls

    I agree they should legalize marijuana. Alcohol should be outlawed. Who blacks out when smoking pot? Anyone? But if you want to be safe and you gotta smoke something, I like the product recommended at

  • Weed Wins

    OH MY GOSH!! This so called fake-pot is so dangerous!! I have a family member who had a personal experience and it wasn’t good at all!! This nasty ass stuff should be illegal!! I do not smoke weed but would definitely vote Marijuana over Fake-Pot (Atomic Bomb)

  • Jennifer Sendez

    I love the herbal incense but The stuff my boyfriend gave me last week was way too strong…some herb called Crazy Clown from a website called or google “herbalincensemegastore”

    it has to be the most potent herb online for sure, just was too powerful for me tho

    • AAA

      LOL… it was too strong but you found the website to pass it along, as well as a google search time… like that doesn’t sound fake. LOL

  • kendra

    that stuff smells ..and i am not a fan of it anymore and believe it or not some parents smoke it with there kids and think its okay .i don,t encourage my kids to smoke that stuff cause its no good for you.

  • anonymous

    I understand a certain degree of “fear, uncertainty and doubt” etc, but this is just useless. Which “certain chemicals” did the DEA suggest that they stop using? At what penalty? In what quantities and dosages? Have they had any other administrative complaints? At first, I thought this was somebody’s blog (which would explain everything) but then I double checked. Nope, it’s a major media outlet. Sad.

    Ok, back to Google. CBS Fails.

    Seriously, what’s even in this stuff?

  • Richie

    I say once a dummy is always a dummy..Anyone trying this is a loser from the get go..Anyone trying to get high on this stuff deserves what they get, how stupid.

    • James

      I agree, and also anyone who eats red meat, and drinks soda, and eats chips also deserves a heart attack too!

  • Michael H.

    It pot really that hard to find?

  • KPMc

    Well.. as long as people are protecting us from the demon weed everything is ok. I mean.. who cares if people OD on this junk or prescription happy pills or turn into methheads? As long as that deadly menace marijuana is still illegal we will be just fine.

    PS… If you did not read that in a sarcastic tone you need to get a big bag of weed and smoke up.

  • david

    legalize weed or STFU because people want that marijuana like high you can make whatever illegal, the outcome will just be worse for you , keeping weed illegal pumps business to these bad herbal incenses and when they try to F with thier business the chemicals just get worse. its also empowering the cartels.

  • jack

    i remember when you could just fart in a bag and get high

    • Sniff

      When was that?

  • John V.

    When I was growing up in the 70’s all we had was weed and beer. I don’t recall any of my friends ever being hospitalized for imbibing. Then again the drinking age was 18 and reefer was pretty easy to obtain. Ah… those were the days. I feel sorry for the teens of today. So many restrictions.

  • HUGO

    It is a Novelty Collector’s Item and says do not smoke.
    Why are these young baboons smoking it?

  • kden

    when was the last time anyone smoking weed ended up in intensive care?

    • Weed-iz-cool


  • JasonS

    Sounds like good stuff – I know what I’m doing this weekend.

    • Weed-iz-cool

      hell yaw me 2

  • Wolf

    It ALL begins at HOME with good PARENTING. There are so many kids out there today that DON’T get high or even feel a need to. They have great moral support and good upbringing from PARENTS at HOME. Spend some QUALITY time with your children. Don’t let them resort to any kind of drug to solve problems.

  • Wake up People

    People that think others are smoking incense are the idoits. It is only marketed as incense to make it legal. The manufactorers, and the people smoking know exactly what it is for.

  • Mike

    This is only the beginning. It started out in Tennessee with the “herbal incense” that mimics the feeling of marijuana.
    The second wave is “Molly’s Plant Food and White Lightning Bath Salts” two separate products, marketed as plant food and bath salts that also say NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION. These products are far more dangerous and mimic Ecstacy, the same exact feeling with sometime terrible consequences.
    I know four adults that tried it, 3 were physically and MENTALLY wasted for 6 days. One ended up in the emergency room. Awful!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The reality is that these ARE ONLY FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION. They are now illegal to sell in Tennessee.
    Good luck

  • 1608

    And they said four loco was bad.

  • Spectre

    The ridiculous thing is that this stuff is actually bad for you, and marijuana isn’t. One is legal, one isn’t. There’s something very wrong with that.

  • Please don't breed

    “It’s scary and it’s also scary that it’s legal. We can’t even charge anybody.”

    No, what’s scary here is that a nineteen year old man could be so deeply stupid. Hopefully it rendered him sterile.

  • Dan Te

    I remember when I was young all we had access to was Elmer glue…

  • Proactive

    Hey O’Neil, seems all you care about is charging someone. So typical. You should know, this is not something new going on. The fact kid’s are doing this has been all over the news for some time now. Legal or illegal, the fact you can arrest someone or not, is irrelevant. It is a public issue that the police should be proactive about rather than make stupid comments like you made, as if someone just woke you up sleeping in your cruiser, Send someone over to the mall and suggest the people selling it to consider stopping it and tell them you will be back to check on the decision they made at some point. Protect and serve. Give it a shot.

  • Andrea Tharp

    Call me out of touch, but Is this so called incense a drug under a different name? It sounds a lot like how “bath salts” are being sold. Trust me, you don’t want this kind of bath salts in your tub- it’s a a new designer drug sold as a bath product, and getting banned in several states.

  • Sandi Penney-Kreisberg

    the stuff down here in south florida also name Mr. Nice Guy..isnt sooo nice…tons of kids and adults were having reactions and going to the hospital. the hospitals dont know the contents of it, and cannot treat the patients…2 young boys that are friends of mine spent new years eve in the Intensive care unit.. they are okay now, but this stuff was finally taking off the shelves and deemed illegal 2 months ago..what is it going to take before someone dies???? or has brain damage????

  • mark verrell

    sometimes that expression “they deserve what they get” could be applicable

  • Carlos Liriano

    that 19 years old moron must have pork fat between his ears, what a stupid jerk, let it be a lesson for the rest of those idiots in Rockland county, if something say don’t do it please don’t, it will only land you in the grave yard

  • MIcha

    “It’s scary and it’s also scary that it’s legal. We can’t even charge anybody.”
    Are you kidding me? They’re upset because they can’t charge anybody? This was packaged as incense and had a warning right on the box to NOT smoke it. This kid was a moron for doing what he did. I hope he recovers, but this was his own fault, no one elses. What’s next? The cops going to charge clorox with murder if someone drinks a bottle of it? Gimme a break, it’s not companies fault that people are stupid.

    • S

      its pretty much a desighner drug, somone just seen loophole and printed incense on it…it doesnt even smell good or like weed so thats obviouysly not what they want you to use it for

  • pugphan

    How dimwitted can you be at 19? smokersodysseycom

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