Many teens have recently discovered a legal alternative to marijuana. Synthetic marijuana, also called K2, gives users a high similar to marijuana. Ironically, many researchers have concluded that this legal form of pot is much more dangerous than its illegal original.
Consuming K2, says one official from a Drug Enforcement Agency, has the same risk as “playing Russian roulette.” Many teens and young adults were hospitalized after experiencing extremely adverse effects of the new drug.
Its ingredients sound harmless enough, containing dried herbs, flowers and tobacco, but it’s the synthetic compound similar to THC that gives users their high, and also the most fatal.
K2 is blue and looks like potpourri. It is made in Asia and sells online and in some local stores. Marketed as herbal incense and not for consumption, the legitimacy of this product is debatable, at best.
“I tried it once, and I didn’t really like it,” said one anonymous user. “It gave me a headache and that’s about it.”
This user was one of the lucky ones. Many hospitals across the country have reported patients experiencing “hallucinations, severe agitation, elevated heart rates, vomiting, seizures and other reactions to the substance,” Dr. Anthony Scalzo, a toxicologist at St. Louis University, told The Missourian.
“[The users] think they’re going to mellow, and that’s not what’s happening,” he said.
Many states are beginning to take action against this “fake pot.” In Missouri, where synthetic marijuana use is highest, legislation passed in early March illegalizing the substance. Georgia and Kansas have also made legal steps toward outlawing the use and sale of K2. North Carolina has not yet considered creating a similar ban.