An herbal preparation containing synthetic cannabinoids has show up in Kansas, and a prohibitionist Kansas politician has a reflex response: Ban it. The preparation, sold under the name K-2 is available over the Internet and at selected shops in the Kansas City and Lawrence areas.
K-2 is one of a number of compounds that have appeared on the market in the past couple of years containing synthetic cannabinoids. Another popular compound containing the synthetic cannabinoids is sold under the name Spice. According to Clemson University chemistry professor John Huffman, at least one of those synthetic cannabinoids, JWH-018, was created by one of his graduate students doing pharmaceutical research.
Who manufactures K-2, Spice, and similar products is unclear, as is where they are coming from.
Spice has already been banned by a number of European countries, including Britain, France, Germany, Poland, and Russia, as well as South Korea. While Spice, K-2, and other products containing synthetic cannabinoids are not listed as controlled substances in the US, there is some debate about whether they fall under the Controlled Substances Act's provisions banning analogues of controlled substances.
Kansas state Rep. Peggy Mast (R-Emporia) had never heard of K-2 before being approached by a local newspaper reporting on the phenomenon last week, but that didn't stop here from being ready to criminalize it. "I would be very happy to sponsor a bill to make this illegal," she said.
In an interview this week, Mast elaborated. Little is known about K-2, she said. It's dangerous, she added, without explaining how she knows it is dangerous given that little is known about it. "And that makes it potentially dangerous," said Mast. "I'm really concerned about the effect it can have on young people."
If there's one thing Mast does know, it's what to do when confronted with a substance about which you know little: Ban it. Mast sponsored successful legislation to do just that with jimson weed and salvia divinorum a few years ago. "I don't think the public should have ready access to anything that has not been studied," Mast said.
But until Mast gets around to introducing and passing a bill, K-2 remains legal in Kansas. And places like Sacred Journeys in Lawrence are selling it.
"A lot of people get a marijuana-like buzz when you smoke it, and that seems to be why a lot of people are afraid of it and attack it," said Rob Bussinger, a consultant at Sacred Journey. "We have teachers that come in and buy it, we have police officers that come in and buy it, military people who buy it," said Bussinger.
For chemist Huffman, banning new substances is a futile pursuit. "You ban one and they'll come up with another," he said.
from Drug War Chronicle