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K2 Synthetic Marijuana Putting Dozens in the Hospital

K2 Synthetic Marijuana Putting Dozens in the Hospital

Author: Justin Mckibben

Disrupting the unpredictable supply of synthetic drugs has been a difficult task for law enforcement over the past few years. These often mislabeled and highly underestimated substances are rebranded and falsely advertised all over. Makers would tempt their customers with the promise of “safe legal alternatives” to illicit drugs. There has been synthetic LSD in the form of liquid used in electronic cigarettes. Then on the streets there are other dangerous synthetics such as Flakka- the synthetic crystal meth. Now one of the original designer drugs- the K2 synthetic marijuana- is causing some serious problems for the people of New York.

Much like many of these other designer drugs, the K2 synthetic marijuana is far more dangerous than the real drug is mimics. Just over a week ago there were at least 33 people hospitalized in Brooklyn, New York in a mass drug overdose. The source has been identified as the K2 synthetic marijuana. Now authorities are looking to cut off the supply before things get much worse.

What is K2 Synthetic Marijuana?

K2 synthetic marijuana is just one of the many brands of synthetic marijuana out there. K2 is comprised of several dangerous chemicals. Most brands are cleverly marketed to the public as a wide variety of herbal mixtures that are supposedly a “safe” and legal. This fake weed is sold under multiple names including:

  • Spice
  • Fake Weed
  • Yucatan Fire
  • Skunk
  • Moon Rocks

K2 synthetic marijuana and other “alternative weed” products usually contain dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives that are responsible for their psychoactive (mind-altering) effects. But there are serious health risks associated with synthetic marijuana, including but not limited to:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations

Despite the fact that the federal government actually outlawed synthetic marijuana as far back as 2011, variations of K2 are still out there. Some stories of serious injuries or deaths are linked to synthetic drugs. Recent studies even say it may cause cancer.

K2 Overdose Outbreak

Last Tuesday a shocking wave of overdoses occurred in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of New York. Initial reports were unable to verify all of these overdoses were linked exclusively to K2. However, police confirm several of the victims had smoked it. Reports from witnesses state victims were shaking and leaning against trees or lying on the sidewalk. The New York City Health Department told reporters,

“We remind New Yorkers that K2 is extremely dangerous. The city’s public awareness efforts and aggressive enforcement actions over the past year have contributed to a significant decline in ER visits related to K2.”

The statement emphasizes that several of the chemicals in K2, which are made in laboratories and are particularly dangerous, are not derived from the marijuana plant at all.

Cracking Down

Local law enforcement officials responded to the outbreak with surprise inspections at several stores in the neighborhood where the overdoses occurred. No K2 was found, but three people have been arrested on unrelated charges.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams plans to continue fighting the area’s K2 epidemic using:

  • Law enforcement
  • Education
  • Civil enforcement against K2 synthetic marijuana distributors

Adams also says that “K2 is not going to take control of our community the way heroin and crack did in later years.”

He went on to explain the primary difference between K2 synthetic marijuana and actual marijuana is the addictive nature. Many insist marijuana itself is not nearly as addictive as most drugs. Adams insists that K2 is.

“I know people that have quit dope to smoke K2. That’s how bad this drug really is—and addictive. And you get sick when you don’t smoke it.”

This isn’t the first time K2 synthetic marijuana has caused some trouble in New York. Back in May 2015 sources said that in just one week Manhattan emergency rooms tracked more than 100 visits from K2-related incidences. Now that impact is being felt in a big way. 33 overdoses in a week is a pretty grave spike in such a short time.

One big question that comes to mind is- does this mean that as manufacturers change their chemical constructs in order to slip through loop holes in legality they are using more unstable chemicals? Or with law enforcement cracking down are they resorting to using new chemicals that are more volatile and unpredictable?

Regardless, no matter how you label it, K2 synthetic marijuana is NOT a “safe” alternative. Synthetic drug abuse is not nearly as safe as the marketers and makers would want you to believe, and the true side-effects may be far more hazardous than you ever expected.

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