Cheap, legally manufactured, and widely available, synthetic marijuana — known as K2 or “Spice” — is one of the fastest-growing drugs across the United States, leading to devastating effects for users and their families. Sold as potpourri in corner delis for as little as $5 a packet, the drug circumvents regulation with the label “not for human consumption.” Increasingly, the highly addictive substance has been found in vape cartridges sold as CBD oil, and also in marijuana edibles. Here’s what you need to know about how K2/Spice affects users, and how you can avoid it.
What Exactly Is K2/Spice?
Design to mimic the effect of cannabis, K2 refers to shred plant materials that have been spray with chemicals that create an instant high. Although often called “synthetic marijuana” or “fake weed,” these terms are misleading. Unlike cannabis, which refers to a naturally growing plant, K2 is a lab-made compound that changes with every batch. Users primarily smoke the product as “joints,” but it also comes in liquid form to be inhaled as vapor. Described as having a “numbing” effect, the drug eliminates all physical and emotional feeling, leaving users unable to stand or speak. When the drug wears off, users describe nausea and a flood of unpleasant emotions.
K2 manufacturers stay one step ahead of lawmakers by constantly altering the chemical makeup, which makes the drug difficult to monitor and even more difficult to regulate. Even after an amendment that added 36 compounds to New York state’s controlled substance list, the drug continues to legally appear in corner bodegas. Sold in packets targeting teens and young adults with names like “Scooby Snax” and “Mr. Happy,” K2 comes in kid-friendly flavors like bubblegum with colorful packaging. With no age regulations, kids as young as 13 are using, with teens among the largest age group for the drug, according to the National Institute of Health.
Names for the drug include:
Who’s Using Synthetic Marijuana?
Unfortunately, as an inexpensive and easy-to-obtain drug, synthetic marijuana has is used among wide-ranging demographics. Billed as a “safe” alternative to marijuana that standard drug tests can’t detect, even high school athletes are turning to K2. The same goes for young workers who are subject to random drug testing. The results are devastating among every group: K2 leads to lasting lung damage, heart damage, coma and even death. As three users shared with PBS, these effects can occur after a single use.