Synthetic Marijuana Getting Spicy
The demand is getting high for the synthetic marijuana called K2 and more than 500 people from different parts of the country have phoned poison centers about the drug this year so far.
The man-made legal version is called spice, spice gold," K2, sugar sticks and other names, is packaged as an herbal incense and is becoming increasingly popular. It is a marijuana-like high that doesn’t show up on drug tests. Its ingredients are not well known, and do vary, but it’s generally made by spraying crushed green leaves with synthetic cannabinoids, including JWH-018, which mimics the effects of cannabis in the human brain.
Because K2 isn’t designed for human use, some emergency hospital visits have been reported by users of the substance, complaining of paranoia, headaches and extreme anxiety. Also, David Rozga, a teenager from Iowa allegedly committed suicide after consuming the substance. Investigators claim the teenager did not shows signs of depression and that K2 was almost certainly the cause of death.
The drug is sold in brightly colored bags and it does not look harmful. "This is incredibly dangerous," Lopez said. Lopez added that the synthetic marijuana can be up to 15 times more powerful than marijuana and it can cause several disturbing symptoms in the users. "We've seen people with slight tremors to even seizure activity," Lopez said.
"It's not a legal way to get high," said Dr. Robert Cox, director of the Mississippi Poison Control Center. "It's a legal way to get sick."
While there are no federal laws banning Spice, the DEA is "looking into where it comes from and who manufactures it," said DEA spokesman David Ausiello. "We don't know, and the user doesn't know, where these chemicals are being produced. He stated, "It's like playing Russian roulette with your body.”
Ausiello stated that, "In order to ban it, we need the science to back it up. That takes a research phase that will take a little bit of time. In the meantime, states can do what they believe they need to do to protect the public."
Meanwhile, K2 is legal in 44 states and easy to get anywhere. The six states banning the drug are Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Missouri. Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and New York are considering bans.