But there's a new scary spice in town, one every parent should know about, a marijuana wannabe that's been widely available to underage kids in convenience stores, smoke shops and over the Internet for just over a year now, unregulated and dangerous.
Marketed as Spice, K-2 or incense, local media first reported on it last March, after a group of north Fulton teens was hospitalized in serious to critical condition after using it.
Medical personnel and cops at the scene were stumped at the time by symptoms that put kids in intensive care: brain swelling, coma, high blood pressure, hallucinations, panic attacks and vomiting.
Tests for meth, pot and cocaine came up negative. That's part of the ultra big attraction to this made-in-China chemical cocktail, the kids tell me.
I'm also told by reliable sources that among high schoolers throughout Cobb is the belief that Spice is legal in Georgia (more on that in a minute) and that kids are assured by peers it's OK to experiment with the "natural herbs" which are, after all, right on the convenience store shelf.
Fortunately, the effects of using this relatively new substance are finally being documented, as measured by more stories of psychotic episodes, emergency room visits, deaths and calls to poison control centers around the country.
In 2009, there were only about 13 emergency calls related to Spice. In 2010, 2,863 calls were made after ingesting, smoking or doing who knows what with it.
According to news reports, the first 10 days of this year there were 69 calls to poison control centers related to spice.
In June, an 18-year-old Iowa teen committed suicide while experiencing a spice-induced anxiety attack.
A few weeks ago, I'm told by a local police friend, a man crazy on Spice stopped his brand new SUV in the middle of a busy Kennesaw intersection, jumped out (leaving the door open) and wandered through moving traffic, ranting, hallucinating and threatening police on the scene until he could be restrained.
England, France and Germany are among countries that have banned Spice and similar substances. Kansas was the first U.S. state to outlaw it after forensic scientists discovered its effects in late 2009.
Last year in Georgia, state Rep. Jay Neal (R-LaFayette) and state Sen. Ed Harbison (D-Columbus) were on top of the issue, shepherding H.B. 1309 all the way to Gov. Sonny Perdue's desk in July. Certain manufactured ingredients in spice, such as JWH-018 (which is five times more potent than marijuana's THC) were outlawed in Georgia.
Most kids have no idea. They say Spice can still be found everywhere. So how can this be?
Neal told me he talked to the GBI just last week and was told Spice's chemical ingredients have now apparently been re-worked by manufacturers overseas to get around many of the latest state bans.
"They're preying on our kids," Neal told me by phone. The manufacturer's persistence reminds me of the way our Taliban enemy changes tactics constantly in their efforts to kill more Americans.
So what was legal became illegal and is now legal once again, until lawmakers can catch up with the specifics. Neal says they intend to.
Meanwhile, parents are mostly ignorant. Kids are using spice in any case and telling themselves it's OKand legal. Don't kid yourself - users aren't all losers these days. They are athletes, straight A students and "nice" kids, younger and younger, ingesting God knows what and falling for the marketing of these products, at risk to their lives and long-term health.
Did I mention seven Naval Academy midshipmen were expelled last Thursday for using spice? What a waste.
Online, manufacturers hawk their product this way: "Product is stronger, cheaper, smoother, sexier and better than the rest. Not a marijuana substitute but used in magic and meditation rituals and should not be misused."
And "free direct residential delivery" to boot.
It's what we don't know, but the kids do.