Fake Pot Sending More Teens to Hospital, New Study Says
Even though feds have tried to ban them, use of K2-type products is growing
A newly released study says synthetic marijuana products like K2 and Spice are sending more teens and young adults to the hospital, some in a catatonic state.
The study, published in the March 19 issue of Pediatrics, also says there were 4,500 calls made to poison control centers in 2010 and 2011 about the effects of fake pot.
Locally, the products have made an impact.
• In February, two teens were taken from Westfield SouthPark mall to the hospital after they reportedly overdosed on an herbal incense product.
• Last April, a teenage girl told paramedics she felt like she was "dead and in a dream" after smoking fake pot.
• The owners of Twilight Boutique were charged with aggravated trafficking in drugs when lab tests showed the K2 and other "herbal incense" products they were selling contained one of the banned chemicals.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration banned the five chemicals found in the products in early 2011, citing health concerns and growing reports from emergency rooms about convulsions, anxiety attacks, elevated heart rates and disorientation.
That didn't keep the stuff of the streets for long.
New products with similar chemicals quickly replaced it on the shelves of gas stations and convenience stores.
"When the DEA banned those five chemicals, the people who make this stuff were already geared up to replace it," Police Chief Charles Goss told Strongsville Patch. "They never missed a beat in having new stock ready."
It's become common knowledge among teens and young adults that K2 doesn't show up in drug tests.
But that also means that when someone goes to the hospital after smoking it, the standard lab tests also don't show what is causing the reaction -- and the mix-and-match way the products are made make it difficult to pinpoint which chemical is doing the harm.
According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, as little as 1 milligram of synthetic marijuana can be intoxicating, the new study found.
The site says fake pot, which is marketed as herbal incense or potpourri, often includes some combination of blue and pink lotus, red clover, honey, vanilla, bay bean and marshmallow.
The blend is then sprayed with chemicals that render it toxic.
Unlike marijuana, where the plant itself causes a high, it's the chemicals in K2 that creates a high when smoked.
Linndale police last month raided Twilight Boutique after a test showed a product purchased there contained an analog of a chemical banned by the DEA.
Authorities confiscated 586 packets of herbal incense. Charges were filed against the store owners last week after new tests showed the other packs also contained illegal chemicals.