There’s been another dramatic spike in the number of reported K2 overdoses in the United States – the so-called synthetic marijuana that’s proving to be a nightmare for public health groups. In New York in particular, overdose rates have seen an enormous increase over recent weeks – no less than 130 people having been treated for adverse reaction to K2 in just three days. Despite on-going efforts by local law enforcement to clamp down on those using the drug, you only need to walk a couple of streets to see dozens using it openly out in public.
Once again, officials are issuing warnings to the public about the true dangers of smoking something so dangerous and unpredictable. While K2 initially landed as a legal substance that was made available both in headshops and online, it has now been outlawed across much of the US. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has announced plans to begin immediately targeting anyone involved in the supply or distribution of K2, which is causing a genuine public health crisis across many North American states.
Despite the fact that K2 overdoses are clearly on the increase, authorities do not believe that use rates are actually on the up. Instead, they suspect that certain batches of the drug are proving to be exponentially more dangerous than others – each bag often having entirely different properties to the next.
A Man-made Chemical Nuisance
Though referred to as synthetic cannabis, K2 has absolutely nothing in common with real marijuana. Instead, it is a 100% man-made product that’s concocted in home-based labs and workshops by criminals. The problem being that with each and every batch, you have absolutely no idea what has been used to make it, the kind of effect it will have on you and whether or not you’re putting your life at risk.
Far from a naturally occurring plant like cannabis, K2 is made by taking a bunch of random leaves and spraying them with equally random chemicals, then shredding the leaves. This results in a product that looks quite similar to cannabis, though is in fact exponentially more dangerous. Those using K2 generally speak of chasing the same kind of euphoric, uplifting high you’d expect from good quality cannabis. However, the actual effect often turns out to be powerful hallucinations, uncontrollable fits of rage, blackouts or being effectively turned into a mindless zombie.
Experts have likened use of K2 to playing Russian roulette – given the way in which it’s only ever a matter of time until things go disastrously wrong.
Though the recent spike has NY authorities worried, things have actually taken a positive turn since the height of the K2 crisis last summer. In July 2015 alone, more than 1,200 visits to the ER were prompted by adverse reactions to the drug, along with 10 fatalities. There have not been any deaths so far in 2016 that have been directly linked with K2 use, though experts believe this is more a case of good fortune than an indication of the drug’s non-lethal properties.
As is always the case with such substances, the problem the authorities face is that of fighting production of a cheap and popular drug that’s also incredibly easy to manufacture. As always with 'legal highs' just as soon as one formula is classified as illegal, a slightly altered (and untested) formula comes along to take its place.
Nevertheless, the message remains a simple one. If you’re going to smoke, make sure you smoke something you know, something you can trust and something you know the origins of. If you genuinely have no idea what you’re putting inside you, you’ve really nobody to blame but yourself when the resulting reaction is one that puts your health and even your life at risk.
Long story short – stick with real weed!