Marijuana-aping herbal concoctions are popping up at local head shops

  1. chillinwill
    We were somewhere around Ted’s Shark Bar on the edge of Manatee County when the drug began to take hold. I remember saying something like, “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive…” And just like that I was lost. I turned around. Turned around again, and thanked all that was holy I was not in some huge 1971 red Chevy convertible drawing every cop’s attention.

    How do you explain being in a condition like this after only enjoying the aromatic bliss of some incense? You don’t. So get it while you can: K2 Summit, pictured at right and available at every smoke shop in town, probably won’t be legal for long.

    No doubt you’ll soon be hearing more about K2, as everyone just starting to enjoy it knows. Even those who don’t think it’s going to be outlawed, like 20-year-old user Heather Bruenner, are aware that there’s something funny about the substance. Referring to the marijuana laws she’s grown up with, she says: “K2 has to be government-endorsed. Who does it better than the government, right? This is their way of getting us away from something they’ve claimed was bad for so long.”

    K2 is one of a couple dozen herbal “incenses” being sold under a variety of brand names: Spice, Pep Twisted, Pulse Herbal, Super Solar and Tribal Warrior. It’s marketed as incense, because, like the more common Musk and Jasmine, you have to light them — and they burn.

    But what one does with the lighted product could turn into a potential conflict.

    “(NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION)!!!” Screams a top Google-placed website — seeming to believe this disclaimer is some stopgap in law-enforcement procedure. The strategy is kind of like the listing practices adopted by Craigslist members for escort payments in “kisses” or “roses” rather than dollars, something tried in the early days of the site.

    K2 gets its punch from two synthetic cannabinoids, JWH-018 and JWH-023, that supposedly resemble the psychoactive effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana. JWH-018 has been around since 2002, but, beyond that — and the fact that it originated in Europe — we still don’t know much about it.

    In 2008, Austria announced that Spice, which is sold in the same package and at the same price ($35 for three grams) as K2, is a controlled substance. JWH-018 also falls under Canada’s item 1 of schedule 2 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and is illegal in Germany as of Jan. 22, Lithuania as of June 5, Finland as of May 5, Sweden as of July 30 and Estonia as of July 24.

    “It’s the same price as chronic,” says Christian DeBlassi, a well-versed smoker. “It’s strong, but I switched from pot because it’s legal. I like pot better and it seems less severe, but who wants to be involved with the law? Especially in South Florida.” He smiles, and takes his boyfriend’s hand. His partner shrugs and nods in agreement.

    The source of contention among some agencies is that the alkaloids in plants listed within the products don’t come from the source indicated, leading to allegations that foreign elements are added to the herb. “That’s scary,” Bruenner confesses, “but still, it’s legal.”

    Like MDMA, the ecstasy compound that was, once upon a time, free from restrictions, but came to be witch-hunted down for its spine dissolving qualities. Though in this case, the only clinical reports say that JWH-018 may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

    Whatever. Put it in your favorite water pipe, inhale and hang on. The effects are best described as chunky and dissociative. It’s a digital high, all clumped up. Laugh and wonder why. Wonder and laugh again. Wait, what…

    Are you feeling like you’re hearing about someone else’s trip? ’Cause you are. K2 is every bit as potent as high-grade weed, and it might soon be equally illegal. Call your local legislator now.

    Robert Johnson
    November 20, 2009
    Creative Loafing

    Share This Article


To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!