Chris Miller woke up with his heart racing and a gripping feeling in his chest. He felt as if he couldn’t breathe and as he sat up from the couch he had fallen asleep on he called out for his roommate. His roommate noticed the pale and sweaty look to his skin and that Chris’s lips appeared bluish. He called for paramedics.
When the medics arrived the first thing they asked Chris as they hooked him up to the EKG machine that measures electrical activity of the heart is WHAT he had taken? They needed to know what would cause a seemingly healthy young man to be going into cardiac arrest! Chris said that just 3 hours before he had been at a party and smoked what someone described as “synthetic marijuana, known on the street as K-2 or Spice. The paramedics took him to the hospital and there he would remain overnight in observation while he was given medication to stop the erratic electrical impulses throwing the Sinus Rhythm of his heart. Chris was lucky. The doctors had described already 4 similar deaths of people all under age 25 who had smoked this K-2 in the prior month.
K-2 is not marijuana. It is not even a derivative of marijuana. It is actually a synthetic chemical compound created in a makeshift lab of synthetic chemicals that are then mixed with various dried plants, herbs and tobacco of an unknown origin. Five chemicals (JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, and cannabicyclohexanol) are used to make so-called “fake marijuana” products. John Huffman, a Clemson University student, in the mid 90s synthesized the chemical and described it as structurally similar to THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. Pot smokers picked up on Huffman’s work and brought batches of JWH-018 and started spraying it onto varying mixes of flowers, dried herbs and tobacco leaves.In January 2009, researchers at Freiburg University discovered that the active substance in K2 was an undisclosed analog of the synthetic cannbinoid CP 47,497 later named cannanbicyclohexanol. No official studies have been conducted on its effect on humans, but the reports are reflecting cardiac arrhythmias, trouble breathing, hallucinations, and over all psychotic effects similar to the chemicals in “bath salts.” The European Union has outlawed all manufacturing and distribution of this unsafe chemical.
Spice and K-2 has become widely used among high school age kids and young adults because it was thought to be a “natural” alternative to cannabis/marijuana which are in fact natural and not even processed with chemicals but still illegal in many states. Suppliers have attempted to evade the new regulations by changing names and some compounds now that the DEA and Federal Government of the United States has outlawed the specific chemicals and the products that contain them.
Among hallucinations users have described being out of control and suicidal, coupled with extreme anxiety and paranoia. So far over 2 dozen suicides have been linked to the use of K-2, and over 40 deaths, and countless other medical emergencies and emergency room visits. The doctors are reporting trouble with treating these patients because they don’t have a quick chemical screening through a blood test to be able to know who has used the drug. They also don’t have a specific protocol for treatment as the overall effects are virtually unknown.It’s packaged to look like pot, and users typically smoke it, but experts say the high is more comparable to cocaine or LSD. And the effects on the respiratory system and heart have been immediate and swift, causing heart attacks in young people with no prior health conditions.
The Federal Government is working hard with the DEA and FDA to make these imported products from China and South East Asia unavailable here in the United States. And education to young adults is of primary focus. If most kids know that a drug will make you whack out and see things, and possibly die they are less likely to even attempt using it. I have spoke with recovering addicts from Heroin addiction that are absolutely scared of K-2, Spice and all other forms of “synthetic marijuana” like one former Heroin addict described to me he saw a guy smoke it and he ended up jumping through a glass door and cutting himself all up and almost dying. In his own words, “any high that would make someone do that, could not be a good one.” He is now clean 10 months from heroin and has been offered K-2 in which he declined after witnessing through other people’s experience what a really bad drug and stupid idea this was from the beginning.
Every young person must be educated. We have to get the word out. So not one more hospital visit or unnecessary death and suicide is attributed to the use of this chemical drug that seems benign but clearly isn’t. Education is the key. If you see this drug being sold contact your local police department immediately. If you are around someone using, tell them to stop. Contact your local Narcotics Anonymous. Keep talking until someone listens. It could save someone’s life.