WKU student suffers the effects of synthetic marijuana

Jacob Parker

She took one hit. Three and a half hours later, she sat paralyzed in a chair, unable to move, speak or open her eyes. When she overheard her childhood best friend consider dumping her body in the river, she thought her life was over. 

Bowling Green sophomore Ashley Stillwell grew up having a close relationship with her parents. She was the common definition of a “good kid.” However, two years ago, after being pressured into smoking 7H, a drug “like weed,” by her best friend, she was left fighting for her life. 

“I got a call from my best guy friend telling me about how there’s this new legal stuff, and how you could have it without getting in trouble,” she said. Stillwell, up until this point, had never tried marijuana because of drug tests for her job. 

She said her trust in her friend and reliance on his reassurance was what eventually convinced her to try the 7H.

“I was thinking, ‘He’s my best guy friend, he’s not going to let anything happen to me,’” she said. 

In a room with her friend and another of his friends, a bong was passed until it was her turn. After waiting to make sure nothing happened to them, she ignored the bad feeling in her gut and decided to take a hit.

For three and a half hours, she was rendered totally paralyzed. Her friends, after having unsuccessful attempts to wake her up, decided they would dump her body in the Barren River if she didn’t wake up within 30 minutes. 

“This was my best friend, and he was considering dumping my body in the river, and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it,” she said. 

After waking up, she noticed the missed calls from her parents and decided to call, admit her mistake and ask them to pick her up. Stillwell eventually vomited on herself, couldn’t support herself to stand and became completely unresponsive. 

Ashley’s mother, Amy, said there are three things that will always stand out in her mind about that night. 

“First, when I got the call,” she said. “Second, when she wasn’t responding even though I was screaming her name. And third, if I can’t fix her, then the doctor should be able to. But he couldn’t.” 

Relatively new in 2011, synthetic marijuana made its way around by being sold in gas stations or hookah lounges. However, because of the varying amounts of unknown chemicals that are combined to produce the “spice,” doctors were unsure how to treat Stillwell’s condition. 

Effects of the usage vary, but some include increased heart rate and hallucinations.

Eventually, Ashley was able to sleep the effects off after being hydrated. 

According to a third source, synthetic marijuana places third in top drugs used by high schoolers. 

In a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, synthetic marijuana was linked to more than 11,000 emergency room visits.  

Among those, 75 percent were youths, ages 15 to 29.

The Stillwell family, partnered with various other families and agencies related to synthetic marijuana, have since inspired legislation to outlaw the blend being sold as incense. 

The family has since created a group to raise awareness about the drug called “The Face of 7H.”