Synthetic Marijuana, K2 Incense, Becoming More of a Problem for Police and Poison Control Centers

A new way to get high is becoming a growing problem for authorities and the people who abuse various products containing synthetic marijuana. Synthetic marijuana is a proprietary blend of herbs combined with chemical substances that get you high.

Products containing synthetic marijuana mimic the effects of traditional marijuana. The products are largely unregulated and are generally available in local tobacco shops, drug officials said.

The suspected drugs are packaged as potpourri or incense, under names such as “K2 incense,” “Black Mamba” and more. They are sold in small quantities such as 1, 3 or 4 grams.

Most of the packaging on these products says “lab certified” or “Not for human consumption.” But experts say the sellers and the customers know smoking it can get you high. K2 incense and synthetic marijuana is marketed to consumers as a product to be smoked.

“This incense is hundreds of times more expensive than the other incense, so it’s kind of sold with kind of a wink and a nod,” said Special Agent Will Taylor, a spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Chicago Field Division.

“These store owners and people don’t care what happens,” Taylor said. “For them it’s all about making money.”

In Illinois, House Bill 6459 bans two synthetic marijuana drugs, also known as K2 incense or “spice.” The law took effect Jan. 1.

Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weis said he didn’t know of any area shops selling the illegal varieties, although only slight differences in chemical composition separate legal synthetic marijuana from the illegal substances. It seems that there will be a never ending cat and mouse game with the synthetic marijuana compounds, and law enforcement.

Earlier this year, he said he was aware of only a few instances involving minors using synthetic pot in Kendall County. On Tuesday, he said his office is monitoring K2 incense and other varieties, but it’s not too pandemic.

Weis said his office will prosecute those who use and sell K2 incense to the fullest extent of the law. K2 incense possession is classified as a class four felony. That could mean one to three years in prison or probation, which he said typically lasts about two years. Offenders could also face counseling or drug testing.

For some people, the effects of smoking the synthetic weed will be much like smoking regular weed—some paranoia, some giddiness and bloodshot eyes. For others, products containing the synthetic substance can lead to severe panic attacks, high blood pressure, nausea and an increased heart rate.

The drug, and its dangers, were widely publicized earlier this month when Karen Dobner said she suspected synthetic marijuana was a factor in her son’s June 14 death when he crashed his car in Batavia Township.

Some of these attempts to get high end with a call for help. There are some serious synthetic marijuana health risks. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 2,874 calls related to synthetic marijuana nationwide in 2010. The centers this year already had 2,052 calls as of May 12.

Illinois centers this year have already received double the number of synthetic marijuana calls than last year.

“Synthetic Marijuana is very prevalent and it’s still out there and causing problems,” said Dr. Anthony Scalzo, medical director of the Missouri Regional Poison Center. “I can’t tell you the number of parents who have contacted me … I have talked to so many parents whose kids are so messed up fromsynthetic marijuana.

The recent controversy surrounding synthetic marijuana seems to be pointing to the inevitable legalization of real marijuana.  The K2 incense, synthetic marijuana issue directly stems from the criminalization of real marijuana.  Read more about k2 incense contributing to the legalization of marijuana.


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