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Synthetic Marijuana

Just when you think you have heard and seen it all, something new pops up on the drug radar. I had just recently been exposed to K2 or K3 within the past few weeks. While using my K9 during a stop he alerted to the vehicle. After a quick debate with the suspect over what constituted an alert, the vehicle was searched. I found a prescription bottle with a green leafy substance in the center console. When I asked the suspect what it was, he said, "It's incense." My instincts knew it was marijuana, but when I opened the lid to the container I knew I wasn't dealing with marijuana. I was baffled. So what is K2 or synthetic marijuana, where does it come from, and why is it quickly becoming illegal?

It is called K2, Blaze, and Kryptonite to name just a few. It made its first debut in Europe in 2004. It is labeled as incense to hide their true intended purpose. The products are packaged in foil and others are packaged in designer make up packages and all carry the disclaimer: Not for human consumption. It is a blend of herbs that is smoked, and not placed into an incense tray to admire its staunch smell. The smell is obnoxious and I liken it to a huge stack of air fresheners that have been ground up. This will not show up in any drug test. Narcotic trained canines often won't alert on the herbal mixture due to the lack of THC. There are several videos on Youtube that show how this is smoked. Visiting that site can give you a lot of information about K2.

It is a blend of herbs that when combined and smoked mimics the active ingredient in marijuana and is a Schedule I controlled substance: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. This herbal cocktail consists of canavalia rosea, clematis nuciferia, heima salicfolia, and ledum palustre. When these herbs are smoked they produce an intoxicative effect on the brain very similar to marijuana. The herbal blends are often found in novelty shops and corner store gas stations. These herbs are also purchased on the internet at various sites. Most K2 is selling (in my area) for $39.95 for three (3) grams. There are also ways to home grow this concoction.

Earlier in the year the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (D.E.A.) listed synthetic marijuana as a drug of concern. As of November 24, 2010 the D.E.A. announced that they would use emergency powers given to the agency to make synthetic marijuana illegal and will be classified as a Schedule I drug within a month of this action; the ban will last for one year. There is current legislation that makes synthetic marijuana illegal in some states: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Michigan and Georgia. There are pending legislative moves in other states: New Jersey, New York, Florida, and Indiana. The move to rapidly illegalize synthetic marijuana may be due to recent medical cases of people suffering adverse side effects from it. According to some information available on the web it states that K2 has an affinity for the cannabinoid brain receptor (CB1) and that would place the affects of synthetic marijuana about 10 times greater than THC. Therefore, someone would be able to smoke a lot less of K2 to get just as high.

When officers are confronted with what they suspect to be marijuana they need to check to see if they are dealing with actual marijuana or K2. K2 is usually packaged in foil and pill container. One distinct way to tell them apart is by the smell. As with any drug trend it's important for educators to keep up with the drug market. It's important to learn what effects K2 can have on the human function, especially in young adults.

If you have had any experience from a case involving synthetic marijuana or photos to share I would like to hear from you. Please e-mail me!