CHICAGO (STMW) – A synthetic cannabislike product being sold at some local tobacco and drug paraphernalia stores and online will become illegal to sell, possess or manufacture Jan. 1 in Illinois, but some local law enforcement agencies want the public to know now that this is not something to mess with.
Sold as K2, spice, blaze and Red X Dawn, and also known as “fake weed,” the drug is a mixture of herbs and spices laced with a laboratory-manufactured synthetic THC derivative. It is usually sold as incense, but users smoke it to get high.
“It’s marked ‘not for human consumption and its effects are like marijuana,’” said Sgt. Jeffrey Cole of the Grundy County Sheriff’s Department. “Anytime an individual is impaired by any kind of substance, it concerns us.”
Cole said the long-term effects of the drug are not known, since it is new and is a lab-created chemical not derived from a natural plant source.
According to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports, smoking K2 can cause agitation, rapid heart beat, vomiting, elevated blood pressure, seizures, intense hallucinations, psychotic episodes, dependence and withdrawal.
K2 is already banned in 15 states and by the U.S. military.
On Nov. 24, the DEA announced its intentions to use the Controlled Substances Act to temporarily control five of the chemicals used to make K2. That measure would make possessing and selling the substance illegal in the U.S. for at least a year while studies are conducted.
The DEA reports that most K2 users are in their teens or early 20s. Cole said parents need to be aware of the drug.
“The key is to educate parents to know what to look for,” he said. “They need to know what it looks like and what its effects are.”
K2 is typically sold in small, silvery plastic bags that look like they contain dried leaves similar to potpourri. It is often marketed as incense that can be smoked. It is usually smoked in joints or pipes, bus some users make it into a tea.
Cole said Grundy County deputies will likely receive field testing kits to use when the Illinois ban goes into effect Jan. 1.
Also on that date, those caught driving under the influence of the drug can be charged with DUI. Just like with any other illegal drug, a blood or urine sample can be taken at the hospital, Cole said, sent to the state police crime lab for analysis, and used against the violator in court.
More information about K2, visit http://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com.