Should Iowa ban synthetic marijuana?


K2 incense is a relatively unknown substance whose effects should be extensively researched before becoming widely available on the market.

Relying on infectious mixtures of psychotropic chemicals, synthetic forms of marijuana have grown in popularity recently as legal alternatives to cannabis. Often billed as “incense,” these substances are available in a multitude of varieties carrying different names, perhaps the most infamous of which is K2. And although still widely available, Iowa lawmakers have attempted to ban these substances before, only to be thwarted by producers who managed to skirt around the legal framework.

While little empirical research has been accumulated on K2 or similar substances, many in law enforcement and medicine have reported dangerous symptoms occurring as a result of the substance’s use. Ranging from nausea to hallucinations, it’s K2’s connection to fits of anxiety that is perhaps the most disturbing symptom reported; having allegedly played a part in the suicide of David Rozga, an Iowa teen who last year shot himself as a result of hyper anxiety.

Given the inherent possibility of danger from smoking K2, at the very least, access to K2 should be restricted until the substance can be more thoroughly studied. This was the view of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which earlier this year attempted to impose an emergency ban on the sale of K2 for this very purpose, only to have their ban similarly made useless.

Still, one needn’t look far into the debate to come away with the understanding that K2 should be banned. The substance is extremely similar to cannabis and, as law currently appears, cannabis is still illegal. If we, as a state and nation, decide it’s right to criminalize marijuana, then we should apply the same basic principle of enforcement to marijuana’s synthetic alternatives; especially when we know much less of these substances.


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