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K2 is new, legal street drug that has marijuana smokers happy and authorities alarmed

Updated on May 29, 2012

The new street drug K2 has been causing quite a bit of controversy among parents and law enforcement and it seems to be spreading across the states like a brush fire.

K2 is an herbal blend of herbs and spices that is sprayed with synthetic, cannabinoids of which the active ingredient is JWH-014 (1-penthl=3=(1-naphtholyl)indole), JWH-108 is an analgesic chemical from the naphthoylindole family, which acts as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids produces effects in animals very similar to those of THC (Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in cannabis commonly known as marijuana.

The problem with JWH compounds is that they are believed to multiply the negative effects of marijuana three to five times. Symptoms include a racing heart, extremely high blood pressure and high anxiety.

This new drug K2 is a new player in the street drug game. It looks like potpourri and it is not cheap, retailing for about $10 a gram. The new marijuana like potpourri can be also purchased in head shops and online for $30 to $40 per pack.

K2 is produced in China and Korea. The product is similar to Spice which is the popular brand name of incense labeled as “herbal smoking blend” that is sold in smoke shops in Europe, Canada and other parts of the world since around 2002. On the street K2 is also known as Blonde, Summit, Standard, and Citron.

Because of the marijuana type high K2 has given marijuana smokers another reason to smile because it is legal to possess and purchase throughout most of the United States. But what makes the drug so feared and hated among parents and law enforcement agencies?

One reason the drug is feared is K2’s similarity to marijuana is catching the eye of school officials and substance abuse treatment providers. Because it is not intended for consumption, there are no age limits on buying K2 or Spice. Subsequently the drug is being purchased by everyone from teenagers to aged and seasoned drug users.

Another reason for concern is that K2 does not show up on a drug test, which makes it an attractive alternative for anyone who smokes marijuana.

An added concern is that since the drug is not cheap, it will lead to a rising increase in crime. The fear is that those who cannot afford the drug will resort to crime to get it.

But the reason that has most people concerned is that there is no one who really knows a whole lot about K2, and that is frightening. Many people believe that it is quite possible that K2 could produce the same potential issues as marijuana, issues like negative health effect, impaired driving, poor decision-making and a well believed drug dependency.

Although K2 has been classified as synthetic cannabis it has not been thoroughly tested. Nevertheless the new legal street drug has sparked wide-spread alarm across the United States and many states have already banned the sale and possession of the active ingredient chemicals.


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      kkalmes 7 years ago

      Eric, thank you for this informative piece... all parents should be on the lookout for the use of this drug in their kids. It will be so distructive as you say for those young people in treatment for alcohol and drug abuse. If you can't test for it all the treatment programs in the county will not be successful in their attempts to help these young people.

    • profile image

      k2 incense 7 years ago

      They have been very quick to ban it. They admit to not knowing much about it. Sounds like a very un-American move to me. Eh?

    • profile image

      Mystery Man 7 years ago

      It baffles me that something such as this can still be legal, while cannabis still remains prohibited.

      The effects are essentially the same of marijuana, yet the adverse side effects are more extreme, and very little research has been done as to what is actually in in the incense and long term health effects. It's also not even regulated, meaning that a ten year old kid could go grab a package.

      I believe that K2 should be studied more. If it proves to be relatively safe, it is my belief that it should be regulated like alcohol; no point in outlawing another safe substance and giving the drug cartels more business.

      Prohibition doesn't work.

    • profile image

      Eric Dunbar 7 years ago

      I believe that more and more communities are responding to the K2 problem by banning the substance.

      My personal experience as a drug user has shown me that any substance that the body does not produce naturally is and always will be a danger to the body provided there is no medicinal value in the substance.

      We have every responsibility to protect our children from anything that has the possibility of destroying their minds and any chemical that has the ability to alter the thought processes of the brain has the potential to destroy it.

      Mystery Man, I am of the opinion that we do not need to introduce our children to another mind altering drug. Even if K2 did prove in the end to be safe for bodily consumption, could we ever be assured that it will not become another abused substance like alcohol?

      Alcohol has proven to be relatively safe for consumption, that is, it doesn't immediately kill you, but given enough time and enough alcohol consumption, it will destroy your body cell by cell beginning with the liver.

      As for abuse, whenever people abuse any type of mind altering substance, especially alcohol, someone dies and usually that someone is innocent.

      I agree with you - prohibition does not work, but stiffer penalties do.

    • profile image

      k2 6 years ago

      I think they should just fully legalize marijuana already. Why is it still illegal for the most part?

    • Herbal Spice Girl profile image

      Herbal Spice Girl 6 years ago

      Smoking herbal incense such as K2 and other brands can cause problems just like other items such as bleach and gasoline to name just a few. This product is being sold as herbal incense which is to be burned by stones, candles and oils. I'm not defending and saying that if smoked herbal incense may cause instant problems as have been mentioned. I'm proof of it.

      It comes down to using the product as it is intended (not for human comsumption) or don't use it at all. There is an age limit on it just like alcohol and cigarettes because anybody younger hasn't had time to reasearch and make sure that's what they want to do.

      And now that they are adults they are held accountable for their actions more and we hope they make better decisions.

      Marijuana has never killed anybody. Fake marijuana has not be PROVEN to kill anyone either. Underlying medical conditions, mental problems, mixing with prescription or over the counter drugs without knowing what effects it will have, and of course consuming way too much of this product could have negative side effects. Drinking an entire bottle of cough medicine or pain reliever to make yourself feel better is most likely going to send you to the ER.

      How are these patients by the way? What are their conditions now and what were they before? Let's get more facts than rumors out there.

    • profile image

      jonny 6 years ago

      i wanna know which is better

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      david 6 years ago

      Marijuana, kills hundred's if not thousands of people a year.. Unfortunately its not the person smoking it... Its the unfortunate innocent person who they hit when driving while high...

      I say legalize it all, but at the same time, if a drunk driver, or high driver kills someone, then its first degree murder, not manslaughter...

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      brianinhilliard 5 years ago

      It is absolutely correct that K2 will not show up on a THC drug test, but my company sells K2 drug tests where K2 does show up. Currently it is a urine only test and is available in a dip card, cup, or cassette. I imagine in the next couple months we will have saliva capability as well.

    • sparkster profile image

      Sparkster Publishing 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      In UK K2 is a name given to very strong cannabis, real cannabis.

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      Dude 5 years ago

      K2 is an very intinse high for the first tym users I wouldn't recommend I would rather perfer marijuana real shit

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      Really??? 5 years ago

      Just as someone who has never smoked marijuana should not write an article on the adverse effects of the drug, this author obviously copied and pasted then slightly reworded the most popular beliefs about k2 which in large, are written by people who have never tried it and differ greatly from articled that are written by people who have tried it.

      The paragraph detailing concerns that this product could elevate crime is simply ignorant. I have smoked marijuana for 10 years straight, I have a degree, a great paying job and have never engaged in any sort of illegal activity to supply my habit. That's the great thing about pot, it's not cocaine,, meth or heroine and if you're out, you're out and you wait till you can get more.

      The internet is ruining journalism, anyone can copy and paste the ideas of others without being forced to form their own, and that is a sad state of affairs.

    • ericdunbar profile image

      Eric Dunbar 5 years ago from New Orleans

      Normally I don't comment on what my readers say about my writings because we live in a free speech society. And although I respect your opinion, I will have you to know Really???, that you are just a child in the drug world. I started smoking marijuana 44 years ago, and I am a 12 year veteran crack cocaine user and I have smoked more crack and marijuana, not to mention a host of other illegal drugs, so you are wrong when you say I have never tried it. Thank God that I am now drug free!

      Just because YOU never experienced a negative side of marijuaha doesen't mean that it is harmless and will not make others do crime. Your life can change drastically if you lose that great paying job so don't boast about your job, instead you should be thankful that you have it.

      I lost two houses and an entire family to drugs and I can assure you that K2 is something that wants to be marijuana when it grows up. But as I said, you are entitled to your opinion.

      Oh, I will pray that you keep your good paying job!

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      mark 5 years ago

      spice is a dream come true for the harder user that is smart enough to stay away from meth or heroin.... besides its a quick cure for aspurgers dissorder

    • ericdunbar profile image

      Eric Dunbar 5 years ago from New Orleans

      No one plans to become an addict, so being smart has nothing to do with addiction. I was addicted to crack for 12 years and there is no way I could have substituted Spice for crack; the high is completely different.

      As for Spice, not enough is known about the product to deem it safe. Although it may not be addictive, it is potpourri treated with a synthetic drug that alters the brain's chemistry and for that reason alone, in my opinion, Spice should be avoided.

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      torrie rainwater 5 years ago

      This drug is scary. They need research. In Waco Tx. A man was on k-2 and attacked a dog. The man then proceeded to eat it. They said on the news he was under the influence of k-2.

    • profile image

      Mom watching son's withdrawals 5 years ago

      I have a 19 year old son who first started using K-2 when he was a wrestler in high school, since he was trying to avoid testing positive for pot in the random drug tests. This crap left him breathless and grasping his chest during matches. He had never experienced anything like that before. Other things we noticed while he was using was extreme mood swings... very angry.

      Anyway... even after K-2 was outlawed, all "they" did was make some new kind of "spice blend" with new chemicals that haven't been outlawed yet. I'm not sure if K-2 was addictive or not, but this new stuff definitely is. We've been through hell and back trying to support my son through his recovery.

      He had been using "spice blends" almost daily for about 9 months. He finally realized he was addicted and knew he had to get free from this stuff. It was causing extreme health issues with his throat/bronchial tubes?/stomach. He felt like he was going to die if he didn't stop smoking it.

      He's been trying to quit for a little over a month. Some of the withdrawal symptoms include nightmares and delusional thoughts , no appetite, stomach cramps and vomiting if you eat anything, extreme cravings for the drug. I can't even begin to tell you what a struggle this has been.

      He has admitted that he is angry this stuff is legal... and when he used to go to the "head shop" to get it... there was TONS of different synthetic drugs, designed to simulate cocaine, marijuana and meth... and ALL ages of kids and grownups are in long lines waiting to get this stuff.


      We are spending an arm and a leg trying to diagnose all his medical problems now... I am convinced they are directly related to his use of these synthetic drugs.

    • ericdunbar profile image

      Eric Dunbar 5 years ago from New Orleans

      I feel so bad about your son. I smoked marijuana for well over thirty years and I have never experienced what many people have told me they experience with K2.

      We have to do more to stop these synthetic drugs that are being created to get around legality. I pray that your son will fully recover from all the ills that K2 have inflicted him with.

    • profile image

      Brittney 5 years ago

      One thing they do online and in the media is call it k2. If you are on the other side of the fence, one thing you know never say is k2, that will have your ass a possession ticket and a night in jail. As a previous user, the thing is we know the risks involved. I can't necessarily say that I've had a craving for dog or baby or anything. I never had any kind of crazy or bad trip, nothing but good experiences. Now I am not saying that I advocate the use, but really.. How many of you take prescription pills? Drink a little bit more than you should? How many of you put over 3000 chemicals in your body per cigarette? And you know the risk. You know Rx pills come with some of the crasiest side effects, drunk driving is an epidemic, and despite what is known about the dangers of cigarettes, more and more are being sold. "k2" as you call it is a bad thing. It's bad for your body, it's bad for your brain, and it's bad for your pocket book. It's quite addictive and hard to quit. Absolutely nothing like marijuana.

      But this is legal. Prohibition doesn't work. And marijuana should be legalized now not from a political or money standpoint, but from a safety point of view.

      The only people who have a problem with marijuana have never tried it or become co dependent as in with alcohol and quit then get on a soapbox. If you are an adult and you know how to responsibly consume marijuana, it should be legal. POT IS NOT DANGEROUS WHEN YOU ARE COMPARING IT TO ITS' LEGAL ALTERNATIVE.

      K2 is bad, and I still engage fro time to time.. The reason being, I went to jail for having 2 grams of marijuana on me. Class B misdemeanor.

      Marijuana needs to be legalized for the health of stupid people. As soon as DEA bans the active ingredient, bob the chemist pops out a new strain. It's a game of cat and mouse and the DISTRIBUTORS ARE ALWAYS ONE STEP AHEAD OF THE LAW. something is made illegal, the next day, new baggies of incense are on the shelves.

      Instead of worrying about the stigma marijuana carries, we should be worrying about our friends and family eating our pets and children.

      Have a good day!

    • profile image

      Starmom41 4 years ago

      @Eric: thank you for writing this- people need to be educated.

      Not long ago, a local kid died from using this stuff.

    • profile image

      elizabethjuarez22 4 years ago

      Where can I find fake in fort worth? I love it, :)

    • ericdunbar profile image

      Eric Dunbar 4 years ago from New Orleans

      I presume that when you ask me where can you find "fake" that you are referring to fake marijuana.

      If you have really read this article, you should know that I am oppossed to fake marijuana in every way. If you have not read the article, you should know that you are putting your life in jeapordy by smoking this so called fake marijuana. It is dangerous and could turn out to be your worst nightmare.

      If I misinterpreted your question, please forgive me and ask it again.

    • profile image

      ryan 3 years ago

      I smoked this daily for two to three Years

      Am now on day four of quitting. Teriffied cuz I know withdrawal is coming soon. This stuff is harder to quote than crack,and it leeches all of your body's pottassium. To all you dumbasses who smoke it-go to your doctor for help. You are protected under hippa privacy laws. Can I live through quitting this? I'm terrified!

    • ericdunbar profile image

      Eric Dunbar 3 years ago from New Orleans

      Ryan, here is some encouragement. I am an ex-crack cocaine addict; I smoked crack 12 years. I also smoked marijuana (not synthetic pot) for almost 30 years. Nothing--absolutely nothing is like crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms. It took me 2 years to get over this hideous drug.

      You can do whatever you set your mind to doing. Find something you like to replace the thing that you do not like. For example, I replaced crack cocaine with writing, and I must say, I have gotten pretty good at it. Don't be terrified, instead be encouraged that you will overcome this, as you have overcame other seemingly impossible odds in your life. YOU CAN DO THIS!

    • profile image

      ryan 3 years ago

      Thank you Eric. I am doing very well on day six now. I will never do drugs again probably going to quit smoking cigarettes even. So glad this didn't kill me. For anyone quitting, make sure to drink electrolyte beverages and keep eating bananas. With no potassium(k2 leeches it) your heart health and circulatory system could fail. Am no doc but potassium keeps vessel walls from oxidizing. Ppl have been found with critical pottassium levels. Happy drug free new year.

    • ericdunbar profile image

      Eric Dunbar 3 years ago from New Orleans

      I wish you well ryan. HAPPY NEW YEAR to you to ryan. Oh, and I think you should quit smoking cigarettes, I did.

    • sparkster profile image

      Sparkster Publishing 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      I met someone a few weeks ago who claimed he was addicted to this stuff, it was causing him major health problems and he said the withdrawal symptoms were unbearable - but he couldn't stop.

    • ericdunbar profile image

      Eric Dunbar 3 years ago from New Orleans

      That is the nature of addiction... You can't stop.

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      ryan 3 years ago

      Still clean. Thank the lord. I am concerned because I have developed tachycardia(elevated heart rate) and arrhythmia (irregular or skipped heartbeat). Will this cure over time or did I permanently damage my ticker. :(

    • ericdunbar profile image

      Eric Dunbar 3 years ago from New Orleans

      You can help your heart return to normal with a lot of walking and a change of diet (low salt, and no fatty oils). Above all, keep your mind clean. What you think about is important.

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