Youth Who Smoked Potpourri Product: ‘I Thought I Was Going To Die’

Send Your Tips To Dave Savini

CHICAGO (CBS) — Some call it an epidemic: the number of teenagers smoking products that are legal to buy but can have lethal consequences. 

A local teenager says it terrified him when he tried it and it killed his good friend. CBS 2’s Dave Savini investigates the exploding industry and some who are behind it.

“It was the worst experience of my life,” says the young man, who does not want to be identified.

He is talking about a legal product he and other teenagers have bought and smoked.  The substance can cause terrifying hallucinations, panic attacks and rapid heartbeat.

He describes it this way: “It’s smoking poison, and I want to get it off the market.”

His good friend Max Dobner died after smoking the same product, and that is why he is now warning others. 

The product is called IAroma. Its packaging says it is potpourri, but it is sold by the gram in smoke shops at the mall, in gas stations and online.

“I call it poison sprayed on leaves,” says Karen Dobner, Max Dobner’s mother.

She says her son suffered a severe panic attack, got behind the wheel of a car and speeded out of control, crashing right into a house where he died.

The 2 Investigators have uncovered more about IAroma. There are Internet sites selling the product, including a Louisiana company called Domestic Oddities, which markets Iaroma along with other brands.

The company is run by Eric Fontenelle, who is only 18. In a YouTube video, he claims his potpourri is euphoric and cause marijuana-like effects.

Fontenelle is part of a billion-dollar, unregulated industry.  He claims he does not tell people to smoke his product, but in his video he says, “What you do with it is your own business.”

He also says Max Dobner must have smoked a copycat version of his product.  Fontenelle says his product was not sold in Illinois and the product he now sells is free of anything harmful. He warns there are hundreds of copycat operations selling these products and have unknown ingredients.

In fact, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say when law enforcement tests and bans one of these types of products or synthetic form of marijuana, new ones show up on the market overnight.

“It’s a chemical compound, so they keep changing the chemicals trying to stay one step ahead of us,” says David Murphy from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The young man CBS 2 interviewed says he is still affected by the IAroma he smoked.

“I had seizures, black outs,” he says. “I thought I was going to die.”

The teen says more than 70 percent of his friends have tried it, mainly because the packaging says it is legal.

Shawn Collins, The Dobner family’s attorney, says action needs to be taken to protect kids.

“You can’t put a poison on American shelves and allow it to hurt people and kill people and escape legal accountability,” Collins says.

Karen Dobner and Max’s friends want to get laws passed to ban all of these types of products.

On Monday, some results came in from Max Dobner’s autopsy.  The chemical jwh210 was found in Max Dobner’s system and in the IAroma product he smoked.

That substance is temporarily banned in Kansas while it is being studied.  Chemicals in the same family are banned in the Illinois, but not this particular one.

Karen Dobner is starting a foundation. Click here to learn more.

More from 2 Investigators
  • Ryan Hall

    How many more harmful epidemics do we need to go through before marijuana is legalized? Nobody would be doing this, if they could relax and roll up a joint. Most addictive opiate-based narcotic pain-relievers could also be replaced by marijuana. Good thing we have politicians to make moral decisions for us. Look how that’s worked out since 1917. We need tot ake back control of our government and our lives. We support the people of Libya, Egypt, and Syria, and won’t stand up for ourselves. Hey as long as we’re kept content and fed propaganda to give us enough doubt, right?

    • Roberta Waker

      Sorry, but legalizing marijuana will not solve the problem. These kids will still find a doctor to give them a prescription for it, or pay for fake ones and the result will be the same – kids high on drugs will kill themselves or someone else. Medical marijuana would be good, but it isn’t working in California too well because almost anyone can get it whether they have a real medical problem or not. If it was healthy or good for you, it would be LEGAL. Would you want to be on the road with 95% of drivers that are drunk? There is no difference between a drunk driver or someone high on marijuana – they can both maim or kill you. I DO agree about taking back control of our government, but not to legalize drugs.

      • Shaman

        Can you show some stats on how a drunk driver and a drive high on marijuana are the same? “If it was good or healthy for you, it would be LEGAL”. Mkay, so how is alcohol, OxyContin, Percoset, Vicodin, etc. legal? They’re not healhty or good for you, and are actually MORE dangerous and MORE lethal and MORE addicting than marijuana.

      • Sasha Davis

        Nobody said anything about driving high lady. That’s still not totally safe. However, when your drunk your drunk. I personally could not walk straight let alone drive DRUNK. Smoking, different story. All the man aid is legalize it. I agree. He didn’t say let us legalize it so we can smoke and drive this rather than smoke and drive synthetics. The poor boy made a bad decision to drive while he was tripping out. I remember the first time I smoked marijuana and thank God I didn’t try to drive on it. If you are this child’s mother or friend, I feel for you, but how many more rights do you want to lose. Prohibition was not cool. You would be mad if they did that in 2011 wouldn’t you. Keep it up because that will happen to. You should stop commenting. Let people that can see past their nose comment.

  • Alex

    More than 70% of his friends have tried it? He needs different friends. Despite what we read or hear on the TV news, the majority of teens do NOT try illegal drugs or other substances. C’mon, parents…talk to your kids and supervise them. Lay down the rules and consequences and stick to them.

    • Roberta Waker

      Parents talk to their kids? Wow! That would mean they would have to stop texting or talking on the cell phone. Don’t know if most people are strong enough to make that decision. Parents of small children at McDonalds can’t stop talking on the cell phone long enough to look after their children or even talk to them. No wonder this country is in trouble.

    • Kenny

      Sorry, Alex, but most teens do party. Drinking and smoking pot are the norm for most teens. Where have you been?

  • Centurion

    Well, as stupid as this kid is, he should roll up a dog turd and try smoking that. I have no sympathy for STUPID PEOPLE!

    Next, try adding some gasoline on your potpourri when you smoke it. How about some arsenic…yea…try that on your next smoke. Tell us how it works out for you.

    • Roberta Waker

      You are so right. Kids will smoke anything, then they cry when it causes serious problems. The parents are responsible too; it’s their responsibility to know what their kids are doing. Maybe the parents SHOULD sit down and talk to their kids about the dangers of drugs; but then they will have to stop texting, talking on the cell phone, or ignoring their kids totally. THAT is the problem in America today. Our children are being ignored; there is no family life anymore. When was the last time they sat down for dinner as a family or actually talked to or listened to their children? Wake up parents, you reap what you sow.


    News flash: YOU CANNOT DIE FROM SMOKING CANNIBUS REAL OR SYNTHETIC! If you do not understand what these substances do THEN LOOK IT UP! YOU HAVE THE INTERNET RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU! You can’t plead ignorance if the information right out there.

    • ryan

      he didn’t die from smoking it dip$hit it’s just like any other substance either do thorough research and have a sitter/sober friend with you or you’re just begging for a darwin award.

      • Avg Joe

        little brat + parentts not talking watching = punk kid on way to prison

    • Jenna

      Yes. Thank you. I just said below what killed the kid was him running into the house. Not synthetics or real thc

  • Eric Schmidt

    Drugs are drugs, regardless of whether they have a bar code and label on them. I don’t really feel sympathy for the kid because he shouldn’t have been driving in the first place.

    • Roberta Waker

      Any kid that intentionally buys or smokes something not intended to be smoked KNOWS he is doing something that could cause harm. They are stupid for doing this. When our children decide they don’t need to get high; they won’t need to smoke, drink, or sniff anything. If they are dumb enough to smoke potpourri; they deserve what they get. Sorry, no sympathy here for stupidity.

      • Sandy McKinney

        NEWSFLASH PEOPLE! This product is only manufactured to smoke, do YOUR research befor making careless comments. And, it is not illegal, that is why kids are smoking it, they think it’s safe. It’s not the potpourri of 1980, it looks like marijuana and is sold in 1 gram packages. Until you know what is really going on, don’t comment.

  • HooDatIS?

    i just smoke some bath salts and bleach
    its a party

  • TheGrassIsGreener

    A little blueberry kush or northern lights in the vaporizer does wonders for the sciatica and eliminates my need for vicodin. Now excuse me while I go have a brownie.


    These kids are probably going to try eating “YELLOW SNOW” next, cuz it may appear to them as lemonade. The high ain’t worth the risk. Trust me!!!

  • Sue Stout

    Yes, you are correct, Penny, the high certainly is not worth the risk. My 18 year old son has battled this addiction for over a year. He was a good student, smart, witty, helpful and on a good path. This drug has turned our lives into a complete mess. He’s had over $300k in medical expenses in 15 months, he suffers from panic attacks, and a rapid heartbeat thus far. God only knows what else will happen to him in the future. His supplier, the Sprint gas station right across the street from our home. Who’s fault is this? It’s my son’s fault. He should make better choices. EDUCATION is what needs to happen. It is too late for many of our loved ones, but we can try to save those who haven’t tried it. In the meantime, getting it off the shelves will help. There’s no one that should argue that point.

    • Sue Stout

      And, for those that will miss the potpourri, I suggest they take a trip to the mall and visit a candle store.

  • FR

    As long as it has accurate labels and warnings, it should be legal to sell. Americans have freedoms. Let stupid ones do what they shouldn’t if they want to.

  • Mother Of Teen Who Died Seeks Ban On Dangerous ‘Potpourri’ Drug « CBS Chicago

    […] The product is legally sold as potpourri, but authorities say it can cause hallucinations, rapid heartbeats and panic attacks. It is sold by the gram in smoke shops at the mall, in gas stations and online. […]

  • Brett

    That is definitely two different bags of iaroma. Beware of copy cats. Kids are making knock offs in thier garage with bad chemicals.

    • Jenna

      Your right. Looks like domestic oddities is not to blame. What killed the kid was him running into a house. Ever smoked salvia behind the wheel. Or ever heard its unsafe to drive drunk. The media is got a good story. Move on.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live