Pot is synthetic but Threat is real
K2, legal in N.C., is being used to get high
The 3-gram package of K2 Strawberry comes with a label warning that it’s not for human consumption.
“For aromatherapy only,” the package of herbs and extracts says.
But Winston-Salem police believe that it is being used for more than that.
Police Chief Scott Cunningham said yesterday that the ingredients in the package are laced with a synthetic drug similar to marijuana and that people are smoking it to get high.
K2 and similar products can be sold legally, but officials say that they can have serious side effects that make them dangerous, including elevated blood pressure and drastically higher heart rates.
Cunningham called the synthetic marijuana products “a new threat to the community.”
“It’s a growing danger that is threatening our youth and our community,” he said.
Cunningham said that he and police chiefs across the state have started working with state legislators to get the product banned in North Carolina, following the lead of at least six other states. He said he expects the legislature to take up the issue early next year.
State Rep. Larry Womble, D-Forsyth, said he would support banning the products or restricting their access to children because of its harmful effects.
The product is sold at convenience stores and tobacco shops, often under the guise of potpourri, Cunningham said, but it usually costs much more than traditional potpourri products, an indication that it is being used for something else.
“Most people know it is being used to get high,” he said.
Bert Wood of Winston-Salem, the chief executive for the Partnership for a Drug-Free NC in Winston-Salem, said he concurs with Cunningham’s views on synthetic marijuana.
“Young people are buying it because its effects are similar to marijuana,” Wood said. “But it is worse than marijuana. It isn’t for aromatherapy. That is just a marketing ploy.”
The Winston-Salem Journal paid $14 for a small package of K2 Strawberry at a Broad Street convenience store, where it was being sold near the register.
Most of the product sold here was made overseas and is brought to the United States “in shipping-container quantities,’” Cunningham said.
The package that the Journal boughtcame from Peru, according to its label.
K2 has a chemical similar to the active ingredient in marijuana — tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. But the chemical has been slightly altered so that it is not the same drug outlawed by the state, even though its effect may be 10 times stronger than that of marijuana, Cunningham said.
The drug’s synthetic cannabinoids bind to a receptor in the human brain, said Dr. Anthony Scalzo, a toxicology professor at St.Louis University. Those compounds overstimulate that receptor and can produce symptoms of anxiety and an increased heart rate and blood pressure, which can be life-threatening.
Nationwide this year, three people who used the drug have died, Scalzo said.
Angela Rice, 34, of Winston-Salem said she recently tried K2 after buying 1.5 grams of it at a local convenience store. She said she felt a “head rush” after smoking it but didn’t experience any of the adverse effects.
“I wanted to see what the big (deal) was about K2,” Rice said. “It tasted nasty.” She said that because of its taste, she would not use or buy it again, and she will not allow her two children to use it.
There have been few studies published on the health effects of K2 and similar products, and Cunningham acknowledges that much of what he knows about it comes anecdotally.
But he warns parents to tell their kids about it before it harms or even kills them.
“They will be saying goodbye to their children at the grave side, and that is unacceptable,” Cunningham said.
4 Nov 2010http://www2.journalnow.com/news/201...-but-threat-is-real-k2-legal-in-nc-ar-509578/