Synthetic Marijuana; K2, Legal Phunk
Update: New York State has banned the sale of synthetic marijuana!
It is now a violation to sell synthetic marijuana in shops in NY. This does not prevent purchasing it online. Violators of the ban will face civil penalties.
Contributed by: Melissa Tyrrell, Community Coordinator for Prevention Education
What is Synthetic Marijuana?
Synthetic marijuana is a mix of dried herbs and spices sprayed with “man made” chemicals made to mimic the effects of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the main chemical in marijuana. It is most commonly referred to as K2. The drug acts on the same parts of the brain and body as THC but may not always have the same effects because the product is made up of synthetic chemicals. It’s impossible to know what is contained in these synthetic drugs therefore the high varies from individual to individual and drug to drug. A K2 high can last anywhere from one to eight hours.
Dangers/Effects of K2…
- Side effects of synthetic marijuana are; increased heart rates, loss of consciousness, paranoia, dysphoria, agitation, profuse sweating, pale skin, vomiting, seizures, lack of pain, brain and body disconnect, uncontrolled/spastic body movements, and psychotic episodes.
- Reports of the paranoia felt associated with K2 is less like marijuana and more in comparison to the reaction people have when abusing PCP or angel dust.
~ Studies on mice indicate that K2 can lower body temperature, cause partial paralysis and temporary inability to feel pain, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.
~ The effects K2 have on brain-altering are more intense then marijuana.
~ K2 moves very quickly from the lungs into the bloodstream and then throughout the body to various vital organs.
~ According to Dr. Anthony Scalzo, a toxicologist at Saint Louis University, symptoms of K2 suggest it affects the cardiovascular and central nervous system.
~ Synthetic marijuana has not been around long enough for the long-term effects to be determined yet.
~ K2 can affect different people in different ways. Evidence shows that lungs, brain, heart, and other vital organs all have the potential to be damaged.
Can it be found locally?
Different brands of K2 are now being produced. While it is not being called K2 there are “smoke-able” incenses/synthetic marijuana being sold at Tebbs in Herkimer under the name Legal Phunk. These incenses also go under the names; Blaze, Bliss, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Genie, and many more. These incenses can also be found in smoke shops in Oneida County and can be purchased online.
According to the University of Michigan’s “Monitoring the Future” study:
- 1 in 10 American high school seniors used synthetic marijuana in the past year.
- Annual prevalence of synthetic marijuana is 41 percent greater than Vicodin, four times greater than inhalants, four times greater than cocaine, eight times greater than meth, and twice as likely to be used as over-the-counter cough/cold medicine. It is more common then LSD, OxyContin, and hallucinogens.
- From 2010 to 2011 calls to poison control centers for exposure to synthetic marijuana doubled. For 2012 it is on track to rise again.
Buying K2…Is it legal?
- The Drug Enforcement Administration has placed bans on synthetic marijuana. There is a study period currently taking place that will determine if the bans remain permanent. The problem the DEA is faced with is staying ahead of the new formulas and versions that may not be covered by the current law.
- Until recently, under U.S. law, the herbal product was legal and unregulated in all 50 states. Kansas was the first state to ban K2. Many states are following Kansas lead.
- As of March 5, 2012 New York State is still working on banning synthetic marijuana. Sen. Charles Schumer and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice are backing a Senate bill. The bill calls for a ban on synthetic marijuana and similar products. It would eliminate products such as “Legal Phunk”, “Spice” and other brands from store shelves. Schumer stated that the legislation “would prevent drug makers from tweaking their products to avoid federal bans.”
- If a person is impaired by K2 and is driving they can be charged with DWUI-drugs if they fail a field sobriety test.
Where did K2 come from?
- JWH-018 was first synthesized by John Huffman, a Clemson University chemist.
- JWH-018 is a chemical similar to THC but about 10 times more potent.
- A mellow and euphoric feeling similar to marijuana was reported after using JWH-018.
- An unknown group picked up on Huffman’s work. They mixed or bought batches of JWH-018 and began spraying it onto different mixes of dried herbs, flowers, and tobacco leaves, the result being K2.
- JWH-018 was the original chemical synthesized but you may see the following chemical listed JWH-073 or others.
Area Wide News. Caution! Dangerous High From New Herbal Mix. www.areawidenews.com
CBS News. Fake Weed “K2” Can Cause Hallucinations. www.cbsnews.com
CNN.com. Don’t Criminalize ‘K2,’ Regulate It. www.cnn.site.com
Herkimer Police Department
Newsweek. Fake-Pot Panic. www.newsweek.com
Teenagers Smoking K2 Have Authorities Incensed. drug-abuse.suite101.com
The Partnerhip at Drugfree.org. Parents360 Synthetic Drugs: Bath Salts, K2/Spice: A guide for parents and other influencers. (Feb. 16, 2012). www.drugfree.org
USAToday. N.Y. Lawmaker Urges Ban on Synthetic Marijuana. (March 5, 2012). http://www.nysenate.gov/press-release/senator-flanagan-s-legislation-ban-synthetic-marijuana-passes-senate