'Fake' Marijuana K2 Gets Kids Perilously High

Mix of herbs sprayed with psychotropic compound is legal, for now

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 4, 2010 2:20 PM CST

(Newser) – The “fake weed” sweeping the US isn’t marijuana, but it packs a stronger punch—and it’s legal. “K2” or “spice” is a mix of herbs and a chemical compound that’s sold as incense at—coincidentally, we’re sure—the same price as real pot. The scientist who discovered the compound tells LiveScience it’s 10 times as potent as THC, the active ingredient in your traditional weed. He thinks kids in Europe got the idea of “doping this incense.”

Whatever its genesis, K2 has been responsible for severe hallucinations in teenagers who get their hands on it. In addition to the “potent psychotropic drug,” a doctor says, the mixture is “likely contaminated with an unknown toxic substance that is causing many adverse effects.” Those include increased heart rate, blood pressure, and agitation, none of which are connected to marijuana. What’s going on? The scientist can’t say, as it was never tested on humans, but on mice who were then killed. “And mice are not humans.”

In this Feb. 15, 2010 photo, Conner Moore, 20, displays a three-gram pack of K2 at his home in Columbia, Mo. The herbs and spices in K2 are sprayed with a synthetic compound which is chemically similar to THC.
In this Feb. 15, 2010 photo, Conner Moore, 20, displays a three-gram pack of K2 at his home in Columbia, Mo. The herbs and spices in K2 are sprayed with a synthetic compound which is chemically similar...   (AP Photo/Kelley McCall)
This  Feb. 15, 2010, photo shows a package of K2 which contains herbs and spices sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC.
This Feb. 15, 2010, photo shows a package of K2 which contains herbs and spices sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC.   (AP Photo/Kelley McCall)
In this Feb. 15, 2010 photo, Conner Moore, 20, displays a three-gram package of K2, at his home in Columbia, Mo.
In this Feb. 15, 2010 photo, Conner Moore, 20, displays a three-gram package of K2, at his home in Columbia, Mo.   (AP Photo/Kelley McCall))
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