Thursday, November 4, 2010


Photo from the internet
Spice. K2. Demon. Genie. Synthetic marijuana.

Do you know about this? I had heard about this new street drug in passing on the news, but I hadn’t paid much attention until now. Now I know someone who has actually tried it and even more interesting, someone who is going into business selling it. So now I really want to know more about it.

It is a legal alternative to pot. For now. It has become illegal in thirteen states over the past year and others are considering bans. I can’t imagine how it is going to stay legal for long with all the people who are against making real marijuana legal. It is illegal in 12 countries including the UK, Germany, Poland and France.

This “spice” is a combination of herbs mixed with a lab-produced strain of marijuana. A plant material with sprayed-on psychotropic compounds.  What I find really weird is that it is marketed as incense or bath salts. Apparently it is easy to get. You can buy it at smoke and head shops, gasoline stations and convenience stores, but it seems the big push for it has come from the internet. There are a number of K2 fan pages on Facebook. I have not seen it anywhere around here, but I haven’t looked for it. I am curious now to see if it is selling in places around here. Is it at my local gas station?

K2 originated at Clemson University in South Carolina. Researchers were developing synthetic cannabinoids to create therapeutic drugs and these have effects like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the key active ingredient in marijuana. The compound that mimics the effects of marijuana is called JWH-01. Apparently it was first disclosed in a research paper in 1998. It is suspected that someone then re-created the chemical after that. I read that some believe that a lot is being produced in China. Could be true? I heard it is being manufactured here in the US in several locations, including in Utah.

I understand why people are going for it. It is a legal alternative. It is cheap. It seems to be fairly easy to obtain. Apparently it doesn’t show up in drug tests. Another plus for the user. And I can see why it is spreading so quickly among suppliers. Demand. It’s a money-maker.

 The person that I know who tried it said it felt like real marijuana, but it was a milder and short-lived high. My online research about this seems to indicate that is the norm. But who knows? I read a number of news article on line and there was a lot of scare talk about it, but it is hard to tell how much of this is coming from real science and information and how much is not. I did read that the chemist who invented it said they had developed it for research only and that the effects on humans have not been studied. He says it should not be used as a recreational drug.

Overall I don’t know how I feel about this. I think it is scary. Frankly I don’t think marijuana should be illegal. Although I also struggle to see how it would all go down if it was legal, but still, I am of the mind that if one is going to do drugs, keep it natural. Marijuana is a plant. With a long history. Sure lots of it gets tainted and mixed with chemicals and things, but you can keep it natural. And natural feels safe to me. But all of these drugs made from chemicals? Scary. This synthetic marijuana – no one is controlling where it comes from and how it is made. And it is fairly new so how much testing could have really been done on the potential side effects? It is created by individual manufacturers, so how can you be sure about what is being added to the mix? I guess you have to know and trust your supplier.

But can something like this really end up being banned? The cat is out of the bag and it may not be caught. The recipe is out there and seems to be manufactured all over the place. People want it. People are making money from it. So, like cocaine and other drugs, it probably can’t be stopped. Lawmakers can work on these bans, but I have read that manufacturers are already reworking their formulas, making slight changes to circumvent the laws – creating K3 instead of K2.

It will be interesting to see where this goes and what effect it has on our world.


  1. I read somewhere in a news story that it had put some people in the hospital with really bad reactions. I sometimes like a bit of Bali Shag tobacco which comes from Denmark and when I was at a tobacco shop getting it a few months ago there was that K2 and other versions that I had seen on the news. Needless to say I didn't buy any. I smoked pot in school, but now it makes me totally paranoid. I still with my micro-brews and red wines.

  2. Todd, In my limited research (read about 20 articles) a lot of what I read was stories about bad things happening to people. Yes, wine would be my drug of choice too. I love wine! But I read something recently that said alcohol was worse than all other drugs. Of course you have to read at how they are looking at it. I don't think me or anyone has to worry about my wine drinking habits. :)