A synthetic marijuana, imported primarily from China is being cited by police and public health officials for a dramatic surge in potentially lethal overdoses and drug-related offences nationwide

It goes by many names – K2, Spice, Bizarro, Scooby Snax, Kryp2nite and Stoopid, to name but a few – and it is setting off alarm bells across the United States.

It is an inexpensive chameleon substance and its synthesized chemical ingredients are forever being tweaked by underground labs keeping one step ahead of law enforcement.

Acting Drug Enforcement Administration chief Chuck Rosenberg said. “We’re seeing it pop up all around the country, the dosage amounts vary. The chemicals vary. You and I could buy and use the same packet and have vastly different reactions to it.”

The American Association of Poison Control Centers said, “So far this year, poison control centers across the United States have taken more than 5,200 calls specific to “fake weed”. That’s more than the 3,680 calls they got in all of last year and the 2,668 calls handled in 2013.”

It said that the effect of “fake weed causes extreme anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks, alienation/disassociation, psychotic episodes and hallucinations,” warned k2zombiedc.com a city-run website aimed at Washington’s youth. “This behaviour has been labelled ‘the zombie effect.”

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Synthetic marijuana may look like pot to the naked eye, yet its addictive and possibly deadly  and lethal derives from chemical compounds designed to mimic THC, the active ingredient in real marijuana.

Some packages claims that “Its not for human consumption”. Those chemicals are sprayed onto grass-like herbs that are then stuffed into condom-style packets featuring amateur-looking cartoonish graphics.

Senior investigator Marilyn Huestis at the National Institute on Drug Abuse said, As compared to genuine pot, synthesized marijuana can be up to 100 times as potent as THC at stimulating brain receptors.”

A review survey by the University of Michigan three years ago suggested synthetic marijuana was the second most consumed drug among US high school seniors after marijuana. The many different versions of the drug means they cannot all be deemed copies of real pot and thus be found illegal.

It is sometimes sold under the counter at corner stores, gas stations and head shops, but it can easily be bought online with a credit card after a simple Google search.

It is a big headache for law enforcement because it is nearly impossible to identify synthetic marijuana using standard drug screening tests.

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Washington police chief Cathy Lanier said. “The US capital is among the hardest-hit American cities. We’ve made about 65 arrests in a couple of months now of people that are selling this stuff and buying this stuff on the street and we can’t prosecute any of them.”

By: Kevin N.

 

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