WHAT IS K2?
K2 and Spice are just two of the many trade names or
brands for synthetic designer drugs that are intended
to mimic THC, the main active ingredient of marijuana.
These designer synthetic drugs are from the synthetic
cannabinoid class of drugs that are often marketed and
sold under the guise of “herbal incense” or “potpourri.”
Synthetic cannabinoids are not organic, but are chemical
compounds created in a laboratory.
Since 2009, law enforcement has encountered numerous different synthetic
cannabinoids that are being sold as “legal” alternatives to marijuana. These products are being abused for their psychoactive properties and are packaged without information as to their health and safety risks.
Synthetic cannabinoids are sold as “herbal incense” and
“potpourri” under names like K2 and Spice, as well as
many other names, at small convenience stores, head
shops, gas stations, and via the Internet from both
domestic and international sources.
These products are labeled “not for human consumption” in an attempt to
shield the manufacturers, distributors, and retail sellers
from criminal prosecution. This type of marketing is nothing
more than a means to make dangerous, psychoactive
substances widely available to the public.
WHAT IS ITS ORIGIN?
The vast majority of synthetic cannabinoids are manufactured
in Asia without manufacturing requirements or
quality control standards. The bulk products are smuggled
into the United States typically as misbranded imports
and have no legitimate medical or industrial use.
What are common street names?
There are numerous and various street names of synthetic
cannabinoids as drug manufacturers try to appeal and entice
youth and young adults by labeling these products with exotic
and extravagant names.
Some of the many street names of synthetic marijuana are:
“Spice,”“K2,” Blaze, RedX Dawn,
Paradise, Demon, Black Magic, Spike, Mr. Nice Guy, Ninja,
Zohai, Dream, Genie, Sence, Smoke, Skunk, Serenity, Yucatan,
Fire, and Crazy Clown.
What does it look like?
These chemical compounds are generally found in bulk powder
form, and then dissolved in solvents, such as acetone, before
being applied to dry plant material to make the “herbal incense”
products. After local distributors apply the drug to the dry plant
material, they package it for retail distribution, again without
pharmaceutical-grade chemical purity standards, as these have
no accepted medical use, and ignoring any control mechanisms
to prevent contamination or to ensure a consistent, uniform concentration
of the powerful and dangerous drug in each package.
How is it abused?
Spraying or mixing the synthetic cannabinoids on plant
material provides a vehicle for the most common route of administration
– smoking (using a pipe, a water pipe, or rolling the drug-laced plant material in cigarette papers).
In addition to the cannabinoids laced on plant material and sold as potpourri an incense, liquid cannabinoids have been designed to be vaporized
through both disposable and reusable electronic cigarettes.
What are its overdose effects?
Overdose deaths have been attributed to the abuse of synthetic
cannabinoids, including death by heart attack. Acute kidney
injury requiring hospitalization and dialysis in several patients
reportedly having smoked synthetic cannabinoids has also been
reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Which drugs cause similar effects?
THC, the main psychoactive constituent of marijuana.
What is its effect on the mind?
Acute psychotic episodes, dependence, and withdrawal are
associated with use of these synthetic cannabinoids. Some
individuals have suffered from intense hallucinations. Other
effects include severe agitation, disorganized thoughts, paranoid
delusions, and violence after smoking products laced with
What is its effect on the body?
State public health and poison centers have issued warnings
in response to adverse health effects associated with abuse
of herbal incense products containing these synthetic cannabinoids.
These adverse effects included tachycardia (elevated
heart rate), elevated blood pressure, unconsciousness, tremors,
seizures, vomiting, hallucinations, agitation, anxiety, pallor,
numbness, and tingling. This is in addition to the numerous
public health and poison centers which have similarly issued
warnings regarding the abuse of these synthetic cannabinoids.
What is its legal status in the United States?
These substances have no accepted medical use in the United
States and have been reported to produce adverse health effects.
Currently, 26 substances are specifically listed as Schedule I
substances under the Controlled Substances Act either through
legislation or regulatory action. In addition there are many other
synthetic cannabinoids that meet the definition for “cannabimimetic
agent” under the Controlled Substances Act and thus are
Schedule I substances.
There are many synthetic cannabinoid substances that are being
sold as “incense,” “potpourri,” and other products that are not
controlled substances. However, synthetic cannabinoids may be
subject to prosecution under the Controlled Substance Analogue
Enforcement Act which allows non-controlled drugs to be treated
as Schedule I controlled substances if certain criteria can be met.
The DEA has successfully investigated and prosecuted individuals
trafficking and selling these dangerous substances using the
Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act.
SOURCE: A DEA Resource Guide 2017 Edition