2 Investigators: Synthetic Marijuana Product Blamed In Teen’s Deadly Crash

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A deadly car crash has taken on a new twist. A product the teen driver bought at the mall is now being blamed for causing the accident, 2 Investigator Dave Savini reports.

Max Dobner last month slammed into a house near Batavia in unincorporated Kane County. His car went airborne and then into the bedroom of a 2-year-old, who, fortunately, was playing in the backyard.

“It was the worst moment of my life”, the teen’s mother, Karen Dobner, says.

She was at a friend’s house when police called her cell phone with the news. 

“He said your son had an accident and he did not survive, and all I could say was, ‘No, no, no!’” Dobner says.

The Aurora mother of three young men says she especially couldn’t believe her usually cautious and responsible son could have died this way. But then she learned hours before the crash Max and a female friend went to a tobacco shop at the Westfield Fox Valley shopping mall in Aurora and bought Iaroma.

It is marketed and sold as potpourri, but police say it’s actually being smoked by teens and can cause powerful and frightening reactions. There have been numerous complaints of rapid heartbeats to panic attacks to severe hallucinations.

“I think he was hallucinating. I think he was in a total panic,” Karen Dobner says.

According to his oldest brother, Justin Dobner, Max had called him in a panic and said he had been smoking what he referred to as “legal marijuana.” Minutes later, Max was behind the wheel of a car traveling at speeds up to 100 mph, driving into oncoming traffic and ultimately into the home where he suffered a blunt force trauma to his head.

“Parents need to know about this stuff. Kids need to know about it, too,” Ed Manzke, an attorney for the Dobner family, says.

The 2 Investigators went undercover and saw numerous young men buying it at the same store Dobner did, at The Cigar Box.  A store clerk sold CBS 2 Iaroma and another form of potpourri but said it was not for smoking.

Jack Riley, special agent in charge of the Chicago field division for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, says his office is investigating Iaroma and similar products to see if they are the newest forms of the outlawed synthetic marijuana.

Riley says the chemical is shipped in a powder form and sprayed on dried leaves. One recent 13-pound seizure of the powder by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol could make more than a half a ton of the drug. 

Federal authorities say that when smoked, it is 100 to 800 times stronger than real pot. In Max Dobner’s case, the Iaroma bag says on the packaging that all the ingredients in Iaroma are legal. 

“This stuff is being sold not for human consumption and it’s being done with a wink and a nod by some very bad people who are interested in making money and they don’t care what happens,” Riley says.

In March, a federal ban was imposed on five different kinds of synthetic marijuana based on testing and their molecular structure.

But Riley says the companies behind the creation of the drug skirt the law by slightly changing the chemical structure.  

Karen Dobner fears more kids will buy these products and have similar reactions.

“I think that they think because its legal it’s safe, and its anything but safe,” she says.

The Dobner family asked police to run special toxicology tests on Max. A DEA task force is now investigating his death, and the unused portion of the bag will be analyzed.

The Cigar Box, the shop that sold the Iaroma, did not return phone calls to CBS 2.

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  • anna gates

    Oh my goodness this article has really opened my eyes. I live in aurora and read about Max in the paper some weeks ago. As I pass that particular house every day on my way to work, I’ve wondered why things happened the way they did. And to now find out that the cause was from synthetic weed, I am horrified. I have taken part in the ‘peace out’ world, becoming increasingly leary of the activity. About a month ago, I had the most horrific panic attack I’ve ever experienced, after smoking the legal “incense”. I felt like my heart was beating so fast it was going to eventually exploded. I could hardly breathe and I felt out-of-body. I thought for sure I was gonna be taken a trip to the hospital but luckily fresh air finally calmed me down. Though i didnt feel like i need my head chopped off, it was definitely the scariest moment my body has ever experienced and I told my self I would never partake in that activity again.. finding out that that is what caused this kid to drive into a house, well my god I consider myself lucky and hope to spread the word of the dangers of this synthetic weed.

    • kevin phelps

      i agree i have tried that stuf such as k2 and it is bad stuff i still think that at least medical marijuana should be leagalized if not completly legal. it is so much safer than the opiates they prescribe to me such as moraphine and fentenal. and 100% safer t5han alcohol as a recreational drug.if you agree please write or call your representitive

  • Greg

    Well if they’d legalize the real stuff there’d be no problem. Marijuana does not do that to people and it has never killed anyone in the history of mankind. Real cannibas is safer than aspirin or cough syrup.

    • mimi

      i agree with you 100% i’ve tried the “legal” stuff once just to compare it to the real thing, and that “legal” stuff has way more potential for damage. you can tell it had chemicals in it and it just didn’t feel right at all…

    • Roberta Waker

      And you can back this up with research and studies by professionals? If it is safer, why is it illegal? Anything that takes away common sense and puts you in a stupor with poor judgment can kill whether it be marijuana or whiskey.

      • Greg

        It’s illeagal because big pharmecutical companies and the cotton industry want it that way and fought to make it so. Hemp could save the world if ignorance, greed and avarice were not in control. You might want to try keeping up with the times and current information. Hemp/cannibas/marijuana heals, cures disease and oil, fuel and paper and clothing comes from it. The oil from the seeds has all the EFA’s that are good for your brain. The brain also has canniboid receptors in it. http://5446357.versativa.org/

      • kevin phelps

        i dont know what you been smokeing but ive never been in a stupor except when i was drinking and also on the moraphine and fentenal that the drs prescribed for me id rather smoke a couple bowls for my pain and my other medical problems than do these drugs that are realy killing me slowly. by the way no i dont drink alcohol anymore i have been sober since may 10 2008

    • Agatha

      I’m rlealy into it, thanks for this great stuff!

  • Patrick

    I have to agree with Greg in as far as there are more teens getting high off of dextromethorphan and/or pseudoephedrine, versus Marijuana. Both of these medications can be purchased at your local drug store. PSE, or pseudoephedrine, is a controlled substance, so it DOES require some form of ID verification at a Pharmacy to purchase it. The government is going to have to realize that they cannot control everything and people are going to need cold remedies to function and feel better, so banning DXM and PSE outright will solve nothing because they will just find something else to get high off of.

    • Rebecca, Pharmacist

      People don’t get HIGH off of pseudoephedrine, they are using it to make methamphetamine.


        what if YOU came home with a box of kleenex for your nose and you found out YOUR DOGGY was getting HIGH off of pseudoephedrine?!?!

      • Patrick


        You DO know that they are blending OTC medications with Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin and other illegal drugs to maximize the high, right? PSE and DXM are both extremely popular right now and thieves are stripping store shelves bare(of the DXM at least) everywhere of items like Coricidin, Robitussin, M and Delsym.

      • mimi

        its not that they are getting high off of it. and its not because they are using it to make methamphetamine. most of these teens do not even know how to make that.. they are just using whatever they can get access to and making them “feel” like they are high.

  • James

    Try putting kids in uniforms for school and make them go to school for six days a week like they do in Japan. Maybe they will become so busy with homework that they will have no time to do stupid stuff and become smarter in the process…..

    • Dbutter

      I used to get high on my way to school, that would just make me get high 6 days a week instead of 5.

  • Toonces

    What is the obsession with getting high, drunk and wasted? Are people really so stupid that they cant find any better ways of entertaining themselves?

    • Roberta Waker

      You’re right. People are so unhappy with their lives they can’t find enough ways to get high. If they want to get high, they obviously need help. It’s time to stop selling this stuff and penalize the seller AND the user. We need to find ways to help people that can’t function without getting high and stop this epidemic.

      • Patrick

        You are right Roberta in that people need help. Unfortunately, the issue goes far
        beyond illegal drugs. Many people are addicted to prescription medications and
        physicians are chiefly to blame because we have become reliant on pills to solve
        our issues. It seems that they have a pill for every problem. Now THERE’S an real

  • Roberta Waker

    Why would any normal human being smoke something marketed as potpourri? Are people so dumb they can’t figure out that it’s NOT for smoking and could have serious side effects? Can’t sympathize with stupid people who will smoke anything to get high.

  • Pothead

    LEGALIZE MARIJUANA…..The tax maoney alone would really help bail out the country and they’ll never be able to stop it anyway.

  • theresa

    It was a 2 year old boy and not a girl.

  • wally is an ass

    If Kharmic retribution is remotely possible, that bus should be hitting you in the next couple of days.

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  • Jim

    Poor judgement caused the accident, not a product. We can’t blame Smith & Wesson for every murder out there.

  • Nicole Wiese

    If it was real weed, he would have been doing anything but munching on some food chillin at a buddies house.

    • Nicole Wiese

      *wouldn’t (sorry not would)

  • Jessica

    I find it disturbing that none of you even knew Max, yet can say such judgemental things about him and his family who are trying to come to terms of why their son was taken from them. Give the family a break.

  • DeeDee

    Batavia Township? Thought this happened at the end of Mooseheart road in North Aurora.

  • http://spinnernews.com/2-investigators-synthetic-marijuana-product-blamed-in-teen%e2%80%99s-deadly-crash/ 2 Investigators: Synthetic Marijuana Product Blamed In Teen’s Deadly Crash | SpinnerNews

    […] the youth’s family. Read more on CBS Chicago Share […]

  • Greg

    Wake up people the oil of the marijuana plant actually heals cancer and much more. The sails of the mayflowere were made of hemp and hemp could stop defforestation and give us oils for fuel. The fiber of the plant can be used for paper and clothing. It is only illegal because of the cotton industry and big pharma. http://5446357.versativa.org/

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