Three teenagers were admitted into intensive care at Pioneer Valley Hospital after eating seeds of jimson weed, a common wild plant.
Kevin Simmons, 17, and Paul Butterfield, 13, both from West Valley City, and an unidentified 13-year-old from Bountiful were in stable condition.The teens broke open the pods of the plant, which also is known as loco weed, and swallowed the seeds Saturday night.
Within 30 minutes, they started hallucinating, the effect they were told to expect from friends. What they weren't counting on was a trip to Pioneer Valley Hospital, said Kevin's mother, Sherrie Simmons.
"They had heard about this weed growing in the neighborhood, that they could eat the seeds and it would get them high," Sherrie Simmons said, adding that the plant was growing in a neighbor's yard.
The boys were admitted into the emergency room with rapid heart rates ranging from 110 to 140 beats per minute, irregular breathing, muscle twitches, dilated pupils and severe hallucinations, said Pioneer Valley Dr. Peter Taillac.
"When they start having hallucinations, they get scared and the whole thing intensifies and it can be serious, it can cause seizures and it could cause death if enough is taken," said Doug Rollins, medical director of the Utah Poison Control Center.
"We're probably only seeing the tip of the iceberg. This is evidently a popular thing among high school students because they can get these plants everywhere. They need to know that there is a consequence of doing this, just like taking any other drug," Rollins said.
The hallucinogenic effects are most potent in the fall, when the seeds are ripe.