The sensationalism surrounding K2
and Spice synthetic marijuana was pushed to new heights this weekend with an article on the substance in USA Today.
The (fairly) brief story details the efforts of "nearly a dozen states and several cities" to ban K2 "amid fears that its use is spreading among young people."
Translation: "Everybody panic! Your child is rolling doobies of synthetic devil weed!"
Seriously though, author Donna Leinwand goes to great lengths to detail the potentially harmful effects of K2, quoting a Republican lawmaker, a spokesman from the DEA and even the Clemson University chemist who created the stuff fifteen years ago.
What she didn't do was include the perspective of anyone -- such as the ACLU or a handful of Missouri Democrats -- who feels that criminalizing possession of K2 (like marijuana) does virtually nothing to stop people from using or obtaining it.
There's also no mention of the potential medical application
of the chemicals in K2 (the names of which were not included) or the fact that little actually is known about the drug's effects, both short term and long term.
And yet there's this:
Anthony Scalzo, director of the Missouri Poison Center in St. Louis, notified poison centers nationwide about K2 the first week of February after doctors in Missouri reported patients sickened from it.
"At first we had about a dozen cases, but then it really blossomed. By the first week of April, we had 40 cases," Scalzo says. "Missouri remains the epicenter, but it's spreading out."
Poison Centers nationwide have reported 352 cases in 35 states since the initial report, he says. Patients often have a rapid heart rate, dangerously high blood pressure and sometimes hallucinations or paranoia.
If those symptoms sound suspiciously familiar, it's because they just about mirror the National Institute for Drug Abuse's description of the negative effects of marijuana
The story also points out that many states and have either banned or are considering bans on the drug, but fails to note that Missouri the "epicenter" of this "epidemic" is among them. For the record, the Missouri legislature voted overwhelming to outlaw the stuff earlier this month and the bill needs only Gov. Jay Nixon's signature
to become law.
Some head shops have already adapted and are selling a new version of the product
that skirts the law.