A new product out on the market has made it much easier for young people to get a legal high and its easy access is concerning parents and legislators.
K2, a mixture of herbs laced with synthetic cannabinoids, has been increasing in popularity with young people across the state this summer and has researchers playing catch up.
NMS Labs in Willow Grove is currently working on a test that will indicate whether a person has ingested the herbs that are being sold at stores and on the Internet as incense.
"Our kid are being used as guinea pigs," Barry Logan of NMS said at a press conference at Radnor High School Sept. 17. "Interest in a test has really taken off in the last few weeks with school back in session."
The press conference, held by state Reps. Bryan Lentz, D-161; Jennifer Mann, D-132; and Rick Taylor, D-151, aimed to spread awareness about the new substance and encourage support of House Bill 176 which, if approved, would make K2 illegal.
"This mission is a tough one because there is a lot we just don’t know about it," Lentz said, adding that he said the new synthetic form could be more dangerous than marijuana because it is so much easier to get.
"You can buy it at a gas station, smoke shop or on the Internet," he said. "The problem is that students who would be afraid to buy marijuana from a drug dealer are not afraid to go in a buy something legally."
Mann, who authored the bill, agreed.
"We are doing a disservice to our children and sending them a bad message that this is not harmful because it is legal," she said.
If HB 176 passed the legislators said the legal ramifications for possession of K2 would be similar to possession of marijuana
According to Logan and Michael Frost, an addiction expert from Horsham Laboratories, smoking K2 leads to the same type of intoxication as smoking marijuana, but, the two said, many times it also comes with more serious side effects.
Almost everyone Frost talked to who ingested the herbs reported some degree of anxiety. Other effects include high blood pressure, hallucinations, increased heart rate and paranoia.
"These kids aren’t getting what they bargained for," Frost said, adding that he has seen cases where symptoms can last for hours or days.
"The problem now is that we just can’t detect it," he said. "We’re kind of treating it by watching and waiting to see what symptoms develop."
It is too early to tell what, if any, long-term side effects the mixture would have on its users, but even in its few months on the market, K2 has proved its fatal affects.
An 18-year-old in Iowa, who had just graduated high school in June, killed himself shortly after smoking K2.
According to a police report from the case, the teenager had a severe psychological reaction shortly after smoking the synthetic form.
"Technology is always ahead of the law when it comes to things like this," Taylor said. "It’s very scary stuff."
K2 has already been banned in nine states and legislation is pending in five more.
By Jesse Reilly, Staff Writer
Link to story: http://www.montgomerynews.com/artic...rove_guide/news/doc4c93c02dbccbf425424515.txt