K2, Spice and Synthetic Cannabinoid Bans Widen

6/29/2011 – Pennsylvania recently passed a law banning some synthetic cannabinoids and New Jersey has pending legislation. These new prohibitions are intended to curb to the use of  fad drugs that are sold under hundreds of brand names but commonly referred to as “K2 incense” or “Spice.” Users seek a high with the ability to pass a standard drug screen.

Earlier this year the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) permanently prohibited six synthetic cannabinoids, including a common Spice ingredient JWH-018 .

Dozens of chemicals, including some synthetic cannabinoids, are found in the products. The chemicals are sprayed on random plant material (never real marijuana) and packaged as fragrant, mood  affecting incense.

Wholesale K2 incense suppliers have purchased advertising on websites and in magazines (even setting up booths at trade shows) that target natural marijuana consumers. But, compared to the ubiquitous market for natural cannabis these synthetics were fairly uncommon…until states started banning them.

In a predictable irony, K2 incense sellers have benefited greatly from the effort to ban their products. Massive advertising campaigns have appeared on billboards, in print and on television that are funded by drug prevention groups and even tax dollars. The awareness efforts have skyrocketed the drugs out of obscurity and successfully made them a household name.

Part of the problem is that prohibitionists have mislabeled the K2 incense fad drugs as “synthetic marijuana.” But now authorities are finding that K2 incense manufacturers have altered their recipe. New K2 incense products have ingredients that are not technically illegal. This makes the bans fully ineffective and the products continue to be sold in retail stores and online.

Another shift for the issue is that a Willow Grove, Pa. based company started marketing urine tests for synthetic cannabinoids this year.  But these tests are not widely available.

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