COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – A Midlands father claims his teenage son nearly died after smoking a drug bought at a convenience store. Drug experts say teens and adults are using a new substance to get high called K2 incense, but it’s legally marketed in stores as herbal incense.
The 17-year-old goes to Airport High School, and his father says the K2 incense he smoked was bought at a store down the street. “I think store owners need to wake up and realize morally this stuff is not good for people, we’re not going to sell it,” said Todd Vandelinder. “If they don’t sell it, the manufacturer has nowhere to go with it.”
Vandelinder says his son and two his friends took the legal drug to the youth group meeting at Ebenezer Pentecostal Holiness Church in West Columbia, snuck around back and smoked the herbal leaves from a glass bottle.
Moments later, Todd got to call that Ryan was in trouble. When he got there, he says Ryan was unresponsive and vomiting. “When they’re a kid, you know they get a scratch, kiss the boo-boo, it’s all gone,” said Vandelinder. “This, I felt totally helpless”
Helpless because the drug is legally in stores as herbal incense or potpourri. The effects can range from hallucinations to agitation and vomiting. In 2010, an Iowa teenager reportedly committed suicide after smoking the drug.
“Even though it’s called incense, it’s nothing like a regular incense,” said drug prevention specialist Cecily Watkins. “People are using this to get high as a synthetic for marijuana,” she said. “There’s no manufacturer, ingredients, where it come from, what in it.”
In march, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration banned some of chemicals used to make K2 incense. Police say manufacturers simply changed the drug’s chemical makeup to make it legal to purchase.
Todd didn’t lose his son to K2 incense, but he fears someone else will if nothing is done to get it off store shelves. “They need to make this stuff illegal,” he said. “Somebody is going to lose their baby because of it.”