Synthetic Weed K2: A Legal, but not so Safe Chemical High
November 12, 2010 Delray Beach FL – The trend for teens, partygoers and average Americans looking for a way to unwind is no longer limited to a case of beer or a handful of prescription pills. As an alternative, many individuals are abusing synthetic drugs, especially synthetic marijuana. Unlike weed, these herb based products are currently completely legal.
They call it “K2,” “Black Magic,” “Mr. Nice Guy,” “Ganjha,” “Zohie” and “Genie” – which are all synthetic man made compounds sold in convenience stores and head shops.
This is not pot, marketed as pot. K2 is a chemical compound soaked in acetone, sprayed on ragweed and marketed as THC.
Health care officials, addiction treatment professionals and law enforcement authorities recently became concerned with the nature of K2 related incidences.
“This substance produces a variety of dangerous effects,” said Lantana Police Officer, Nelson Berrios. “The problem lies in the fact that you never know what you may be smoking.”
Local emergency rooms in Palm Beach County report cases of seizures, hypertension, tremors, panic attacks and hypothermia from smoking K2, while national emergency rooms confirm multiple deaths associated directly with cannabinoids like K2. Abusers both locally and nationally show signs of tolerance, as well as withdrawal symptoms.
K2 marketing tactics tend to target young people. Bob Marley, pot smoking rasta colors (red, yellow, green) and smiley faces are strategically placed on K2 packaging next to the words, “Smoke Blend, 100% Drug Test Safe.”
Drug treatment centers and halfway houses in the area observe regular use among patients. Because K2 is not THC, it’s not showing up on drug tests. Smoking K2 removes the external motivator of a recovery program.
“People believe that this is the way they can have the effect of marijuana with out getting caught,” said Berrios.
While 15 states have already banned K2, Florida convenience stores are fully stocked with the the herbal/chemical blend. The biggest problem lies in the fact that shopkeepers are selling this highly toxic chemical compound as herbal incense, and Floridians are currently completely oblivious to the severity of K2 related side effects.
Florida police officers are in the process of educating store owners about the truth concerning how K2 is abused – as a marijuana substitute. Last month, Berrios began visiting gas stations and independent stores handing out informational pamphlets regarding synthetic marijuana products like K2.
“At first it was an uneducated decision that these gas station owners made, but now some have become greedy,” said Berrios. “In those gas stations where K2 is sold next to pipes, it makes a much better argument for also getting rid of paraphernalia.”
What started as a fad has turned into something much greater, and many officials predict a synthetic drug craze in the very near future. Synthetic cocaine and heroin most likely will not have quite the same marketing success as synthetic marijuana though.
The general public believes synthetic weed is far from harmful; they think it’s safe and casual. Carrying the label, “not intended for human consumption,” the reality lies in the fact that synthetic compounds like K2 are dangerous substances, marketed as synthetic marijuana. If heroin was marketed that way people wouldn’t buy it.
The Palm Beach County Substance Abuse Coalition (PBCSAC) is taking positive action to increase K2 awareness through education, advocacy and prevention. The coalition’s plan involves advocating changing the law concerning K2 and other synthetic drugs in Palm Beach County.