Online shopping usually involves buying clothes, shoes, or books, but synthetic marijuana, or K2, has become an increasingly-popular item added to “shopping carts.” K2 contains herbs sprayed with synthetic substances that mimic THC, the chemical found in marijuana.
Eric Silk, visiting instructor in the division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said there have been reports of serious side effects such as hospitalization, paranoia, psychosis, dependence and withdrawal. However, even with such effects, K2 is legal in 44 states, including Florida.
“What is important to remember is that the actual effects of the drug, the high, or behavioral intoxication, can be very dangerous, especially when it comes to what you do while intoxicated,” said Silk.
Gaylor Lopez, director of the Georgia Poison Center, said that the herb, which is also known as Spice, Tribal Warrior, and Fire and Ice, is 15 times more powerful than marijuana. Due to this finding, the Drug Enforcement Administration is investigating what K2 consists of. Depending on the results of the investigation, the DEA will make a decision about the drug’s legality.
Kash Hassan, junior biology major, said, “If they won’t allow [people] to smoke regular weed, which doesn’t have any side effects except make you hungry, but they let you smoke this, that’s just retarded. It should be illegal if it has such side effects. Why not legalize the real thing?”
K2 is sold online as incense, in local head shops, and is advertised in magazines as an herbal product not meant for consumption. However, some buyers have ignored this disclaimer and substituted marijuana for K2.
Huxlande Petigny, junior biology major, said she thinks K2 should be legal, but that it should have some restrictions.
“If it is dangerous, people shouldn’t take it in large quantities. Even legal drugs can be harmful in large doses,” said Petigny.
Last winter an NSU students was caught smoking K2, but since it is legal, the Office of Residential Life and Housing handled it as a smoking violation.
“If caught smoking in a [dorm] room, it’s dealt with as a smoking violation. There are possible out-comes depending on whether the smoking is a habitual thing or a one-time deal. It also depends if the student is cooperative or respectful and if it’s causing an issue with roommates,” said Daren Capirchio, assistant director of Residential Life and Housing.
Silk said that if K2 is banned, companies could substitute the product’s ingredients. As laws are introduced, the companies will evolve, he said.
“In my opinion, that could be very problematic because it will just foster the introduction of more and more novel substances to the market and increase criminal penalties and social costs,” said Silk.