State officials are warning Iowans about the dangers of a legal substance marketed as fake or synthetic marijuana. Iowa Drug Policy Coordinator Gary Kendall says the products are sold under the labels “Spice” or “K2.” Kendall describes the product as a green, leafy substance with chemicals sprayed on top. The chemicals reportedly stimulate the same areas of the brain as marijuana, but the effects can be much more dangerous.
The Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center reports the K2 or Spice products have been known to produce anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations and seizures. Kendall says K2 contributed to the recent death of a central Iowa teen, who committed suicide shortly after using the substance.
Three states – Kansas, Arkansas and Kentucky – have banned the chemical compounds found in K2 and Spice. Kendall would like Iowa lawmakers to do the same. He says simply asking smoke shops or other businesses to stop selling the product probably won’t work. “This K2 stuff sells for about $45 for three grams, so it’s actually more expensive than marijuana,” Kendall said. “So, we’ll try that route but I’m not confident that we’ll be able to convince any of these folks to quit selling it.”
Most synthetic marijuana products like K2 are currently legal, but federal drug authorities have labeled them as “drugs and chemicals of concern.”
AUDIO: Pat Curtis report (:45)