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What is K-2?

A full audience attended the Bringing Essex County Strengths Together (BEST) Committee meeting at the Old Courthouse in Elizabethtown Feb. 1.

A full audience attended the Bringing Essex County Strengths Together (BEST) Committee meeting at the Old Courthouse in Elizabethtown Feb. 1. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

The synthetic marijuana know as K-2 or Spice was the main topic of the Bringing Essex County Strengths Together (BEST) committee meeting Feb. 1 in Elizabethtown.

The substance is a psychoactive herbal and chemical product that can mimic cannabis.

According to a release from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency last year, smokeable herbal products marketed as being “legal” and as providing a marijuana-like high, have become increasingly popular, particularly among teens and young adults.

“These products consist of plant material that has been coated with research chemicals that claim to mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and are sold at a variety of retail outlets, in head shops, and over the Internet,” the release said. “These chemicals, however, have not been approved by the FDA for human consumption, and there is no oversight of the manufacturing process.”

Since 2009, the DEA stated that it has received an increasing number of reports from poison control centers, hospitals and law enforcement regarding these products. At least 16 states have already taken action to control one or more of these chemicals. According the their research, emergency room physicians report that individuals that use these types of products experience serious side effects which include: convulsions, anxiety attacks, dangerously elevated heart rates, increased blood pressure, vomiting, and disorientation.

According to a letter sent to the Valley News by a number of concerned citizens, “Since the sale of K2 is legal, it can be purchased by teens on the internet, at ‘head shops,’ and at some convenience stores, especially those frequented by trucker drivers as it is used by truck drivers to stay awake.” One such place is the Betty Beaver Truck Stop in Lewis.

Government and law enforcement officials are seeking ways to curtail the use and sale of the substance, including passage of laws.

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