The family of Oliver Smith spoke together for the first time with the media about the tragic death of the Bloomfield Township teen due to what authorities believe is an overdose of K-2.
Amid their grief, Larry and Mary Jo Smith said they have been overwhelmed by the community support received since their on May 26, according to wxyz.com. They spoke together with Channel 7 reporters from their home for a story that aired Tuesday night.
"The love and support, I don’t think we could get through without that,” Larry Smith said.
“Amazing,” Mary Jo continued. “From the minute we found out, people were here holding us up, and they’re still here.”
They said they've also taken some comfort in knowing Oliver’s death has spurred a movement to get the substances that police said killed him banned for sale. Smith’s death was the third local tragedy involving the synthetic drug.
That effort continued at both the state and local levels Tuesday, as frustration and anger over the accessibility of K-2 swells. The State House Judiciary Committee passed bills to get synthetic marijuana off store shelves by granting the Director of Community Health the ability to notify the administrator of the Board of Pharmacy that it should temporarily ban a substance that DCH has determined can cause imminent danger to a person’s health.
It would temporarily classify the synthetic drugs as a controlled substance, which then helps law enforcement combat legal loopholes should different chemical variations of K-2 begin to enter the market, documents show.
The measure could be on Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk by the end of the week.
The state effort followed action by governments in , Royal Oak and Macomb County which passed emergency ordinances on Monday.
The Smiths were not formally involved in the process, but did send a letter to legislators reviewing the law that urged for immediate action.
"It is critical that we shine a white-hot spotlight on the fact that unregulated, highly addictive, deadly synthetic drugs, made solely for the purpose of being smoked, are being distributed and sold all across Michigan," the family wrote. "Retailers who sell these products are knowingly profiting from pain, suffering and, in far too many cases, death."
During the interview, the family talked about the importance of discussing the dangers of any drugs with teens and taking action.
"If that’s his legacy, that he created a movement that helped people, then it’s a wonderful legacy. And it’s appropriate,” Larry Smith said.
Carol Mastroianni, Executive Director of the Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition, said she too is encouraged by the reaction to the recent incidents and hopes the community's awareness will drive needed changes to the law and perception of K-2 and other synthetic drugs.
"It's unfortunate to be in this place right now, but this will help tremendously in fighting the problem," she said. "Until you get that groundswell of citizens that won't stand for this in their community, it won't happen very fast."