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K2 drug

By: Lauren Harper

With similar smoking effects as marijuana, K2 is a drug that has become popular among many teenagers. Photo courtesy of Google images

 Illegal drug use in teens is very prominent in the United States, with around ten percent of twelve to seventeen-year-olds using drugs in the past year. Drugs like heroin, meth and ecstasy are all common, but probably the most popular drug among teenagers is marijuana. Though the drug can be very accessible at times, weed is only legal for medical uses. This has resulted in the increased use of a legal drug very much like marijuana called K2.

            K2, nicknamed “fake weed” and “spice,” is an herbal and spice plant that has effects very similar to marijuana when smoked. The drug was first created in a lab at Clemson University by organic chemist John W. Huffman during the mid-1990’s. It is unsure how the recipe for JWH-018 (named after Huffman) was released to the public, but at the same time, people in China and Korea were selling K2 as a plant growth stimulant, and Europeans were using the compound in drug form. According to Huffman, “…somebody picked it up, I think in Europe, on the idea of doping this incense mixture with the compound and smoking it. You can get very high on it. It’s about 10 times more active than THC.” THC is the active ingredient in marijuana, and with K2, you can smoke a lot less of it and get just as high on it as you would with marijuana.

            Some effects of K2 are similar to that of marijuana’s, with sleepiness, relaxation and reduced blood pressure. But due to either another compound present in K2 or the heightened concentration of JWH-018, there are much more dangerous side effects to K2 than marijuana. Hallucinations, delusions, fast heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, pale skin and vomiting are all possibly life-threatening effects of the drug. “K2 may be a mixture of herbal and spice plant products, but it is sprayed with a potent psychotropic drug and likely contaminated with an unknown toxic substance that is causing many adverse effects,” Dr. Anthony Scalzo, a professor of toxicology at Saint Louis University.

 explained.

So how can such a dangerous drug like K2 be both illegal and easily accessible to young people? The DEA is currently working to make the drug illegal and not permitted for medical use, but at the moment, K2 can be purchased. This “legal high” product is currently banned in fifteen states, but it will take a while before the drug is totally illegal. Drugs like marijuana and K2 may have pleasing attributes to some people, but the more dangerous side effects, especially in K2, make them something that should not be taken lightly. Be sure to always stay “above the influence” because even though K2 and drugs similar to it may be legal, that doesn’t mean they are safe.

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