“K2 has a very pleasant smell,” said Brenda David, prevention consultant for Alcohol and Drug Services (ADS). “If my child had it in their possession, I wouldn’t think anything about it if I didn’t know.”
The packages say, “Not for human consumption” and “incense” although they are made to be smoked. David, and her colleague Melinda McDonald, showed a PowerPoint presentation during their Synthetic Cannabis workshop held Tuesday, and one slide listed paranoia, dizziness, vomiting, severe visual and auditory hallucinations, panic attacks, seizures and even death as a result of consuming the herbal mixtures. The mixtures were created to simulate the experience of smoking marijuana, and the chemicals do not show up on drug tests, so the product became popular with people on probation, military folks and athletes on scholarships.
“It creates disrespect for law enforcement,” said Perry Parks, President of The North Carolina Cannabis Patients Network. He feels that education is the best approach.
“So far, there are no conclusive deaths related to K2,” said Parks. “Most are emergency room visits that are resolved in 30 to 45 minutes, when the substance wears off.”
David and McDonald said police can slam you with a misdemeanor or felony, charging you as though you were in possession of cocaine or meth.
Law enforcements have a difficult time testing for the drug in urine, and they may face challenges when they suspect someone is high on the synthetic chemicals. Addiction consultants are faced with problems diagnosing an addict and helping them deal with treatment. Not enough is known about the drug, which has many variables, and can be made in any lab with the right equipment.
“K2 is impossible to outlaw because anyone in a lab can make synthetic THC,” said Parks.
While legislation waits for signatures, the product is still widely available in gas stations and tobacco stores. McDonald said K2 now makes a brownie with the substances inside, but is labeled as “not for human consumption” as well.
“You have no idea what they cooked that brownie with,” McDonald said.
She said the brownie is sold as a tobacco product.
If that isn’t confusing enough, McDonald and David threw bath salts into the mix, with alarming side-effects.
The drug is packaged as bath salts, but when consumed, either by inhalation, smoking, eating, drinking or shooting into veins, has a feeling similar to cocaine or meth. McDonald and David said this is something teenage girls have been abusing to loose weight.
“There is no such thing as drug abuse - drugs have no feelings; it’s self-abuse,” said Jim Black, of Children’s Developmental Service Agency, who attended the workshop.
Many people feel that marijuana being illegal has caused people in labs to cook up concoctions promised to get you high without knowing what to expect, and without being detected later.
“We know more about marijuana than we do about aspirin,” Parks said. “Spice has made the headlines. Where is the alarm about 17,500 teenage deaths across the U.S. from alcohol last year? One in four college kids is binge-drinking.”
The ADS consultants warned that the “next big drug” may be nutmeg, so hide your cooking spices from your children, because the nutmeg high can last up to 72 hours, and can be sniffed, snorted or injected.
Parks said the best option is to educate people and have open discussions about health risks. He hopes America will look at how other countries dealt with drug issues. Portugal used to be a nation riddled with drug use, but according to Time magazine, “five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled.”
According to Parks, centering the topic of illegal drugs around health awareness instead of the criminal aspect may help. He thinks the illegality pushes addicts underground, and demonizes the law. He said this is a large part of why many people don’t trust the law, and don’t call police when something happens and they need help. “I went to Cory Satterfield when I first heard about spice,” said Parks. “I thought, somebody with credibility needs to talk to the (high school kids). I wanted to talk to students about the new drug on the streets.”
Parks said he never heard back from Satterfield.
Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ex. 43, or by e-mail at email@example.com.