K2: Fake Marijuana Can Be Dangerous to Kids Health

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Fake marijuana, also known as K2, gives a high that is similar to marijuana and kids today are smoking it. K2 is supposed to be a legal high but doctors are seeing something other than a mild high.

Fake marijuana, also known as K2, gives a high that is similar to marijuana and kids today are smoking it. As if parents needed something new to watch out for, K2 is supposed to be a legal high but doctors are seeing something other than a mild high.

What is K2 and Fake Marijuana

K2 is known as fake pot or fake marijuana and sold with brand names like K2 Blonde, K2 Summit, Spice, Spice Gold, Spice Silver, Spice Diamond, Zohai, Yucatan Fire and Genie and other names. K2 and similar products are made in Korea and China and sold as incense or potpourri. These fake marijuana products can be bought on the internet, smoke shops and found in the incense sections of stores. Store owners have said kids are buying so much that they cannot keep it on the shelves.

K2 has been sold over the internet since 2006, and now kids in the US have discovered it as a legal high that is supposed to be like marijuana. The natural ingredient in marijuana that gets people high is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). In the 1990s, a chemist at Clemson University made a synthetic product that was similar to THC and named it JWH-018.

K2 is herbs or spices sprayed with a synthetic product like JWH-018 to supposedly give a legal high like marijuana. JWH-018 is three times more potent than naturally occurring THC in marijuana is. JWH-018 and similar synthetically made products are called synthetic cannabinoids or mimicking cannabinoids and were developed to test the effects of THC on mice, not to be taken by humans.

In March 2009, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) received and analyzed a shipment of these foil packets with the name of Spice Gold and inside was dried plant looking material. What the DEA found was that all of these packets contained not only the synthetic cannabinoids JWH-018 but also very small amounts of HU-210. HU-210 is a hundred times more potent than the natural THC found in marijuana.

Dangerous Side Effects of Fake Marijuana

Dr. Scalzo of Saint Louis University in Missouri believes not only is this K2 or fake marijuana sprayed with the synthesized THC but could also contain unknown toxic substances that are causing dangerous side effects.

Kids are getting and smoking the fake marijuana thinking it is legal, all natural and that they will get the same mellow high that marijuana produces. In the past month alone, Dr. Scalzo has seen 30 kids with side effects not normally seen with marijuana use. The kids have had dangerously high blood pressure, pale skin, a fast heart beat and vomiting. These symptoms suggest that the fake marijuana is affecting the cardiovascular system of these kids. Dr. Scalzo who also directs the Missouri Regional Poison Control Center believes this K2 fake marijuana could also affect the central nervous system, which can cause severe hallucinations and, in some cases, seizures.

In the past several months, the Rocky Mountain Poison Control Center in Denver has seen 11 kids in the emergency room after smoking K2 fake marijuana with symptoms of elevated blood pressure and heart rate, body tremors, confusion, headaches and agitation.

In the US, there have been 160 reported cases of kids in their teens being hospitalized after smoking K2 for respiratory problems and increased blood pressure.

Why K2 is Sold

This fake marijuana or K2 is sold as incense and potpourri with a warning on the label that says not for human consumption. It does make you wonder why a potpourri would contain synthetic THC chemicals in it.

A Denver television station took a hidden camera into a head shop and bought some K2 where the sales clerk told the reporter how to get high with K2 by taking one or two hits and waiting five minutes.

K2 and similar fake marijuana is banned in many European countries and recently the state of Kansas has banned it while several other states are now looking to ban K2, Spice and other fake marijuana products.

What Users of Fake Marijuana Say

Some articles about this fake marijuana think this is nothing but media hype, but doctors disagree. In the comments section of these articles, many kids, teens and young adults who have smoked K2 and other fake marijuana say that it isn’t anything like smoking marijuana.

One wrote that he tried it expecting the normal mellow high you get from marijuana and what he experienced was 90 minutes of visual and audio hallucinations, diminished motor control and what felt like a panic attack.

A parent wrote that her 16-year old son smoked the fake marijuana and become very agitated and “out of his mind” trying to jump out of his second story window into the pool below. The paramedics thought at first he had taken the illegal drug PCP. The boy required 69 stitches.

Conclusion

Some experienced pot smokers say these symptoms that cause people to go to the emergency room are just inexperienced marijuana smokers while others say there is something in this fake marijuana that acts like PCP. Doctors agree that the symptoms do not act like normal marijuana and is dangerous compared to marijuana. JWC-018 was not created for human consumption nor has it ever been tested on humans, so no one knows what side effects there could be.

As for banning fake marijuana, if these products do contain HU-210, then they are already a banned substance since HU-210 is classified as an illegal schedule I controlled substance.

© 2010 Sam Montana

Resources

DEA Report on Spice

St. Louis University - SLU Toxicologist Warning to Parents: Look for Signs of K2 Anthony Scalzo, M.D., Says “Fake Pot” Can Cause Hallucinations, Seizures

KMGH

DEA Report on HU-210

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