If there’s one thing that the recent New Haven Green mass drug overdosing episode has made clear, that’s to stay well away from using K2, a synthetic drug that mimics a marijuana high but with very dangerous consequences.
Six of the 71 people involved in the Connecticut incident nearly lost their lives. Most of the overdose victims were reported to have taken the K2 drug on the New Haven Green near Yale University. Luckily, no deaths have been reported to date.
K2 is definitely no Mr Nice Guy!
K2 is commonly labeled as aherbal mixture, incense or potpourri and is sold under names such as K2, Green Giant, Spice and Mr Nice Guy. But Mr Nice Guy it’s definitely not when considering the terrible side effects of this unstable syntheticdrug.
Chemical compounds present in K2 are linked to frightening life-threatening side effects like seizures, psychosis, agitation, confusion, nausea, vomiting, accelerated heartbeat, lethargy and severe headaches. And, if that’s not bad enough, K2 can cause death.
High profile cases involving K2
K2 has made headlines in recent years in a number of high profile overdose incidents. Earlier in 2018, this synthetic drug was said to be responsible for at least 22 cases in the Chicago area involving severe bleeding in the urine, as well as from the gums and nose. Last year, authorities were told about dozens of people were staggering about in a “zombie-like” trance in a Brooklyn neighborhood after taking K2. This occurred despite the fact that a ban on the sale and manufacture of all synthetic cannabinoid products had been imposed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2015. It was in that year, too, that the highest number of calls – 7,794 to be precise – related to the use of synthetic weed was received by poison control centers throughout the country.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, specific synthetic cannabinoids have been banned by the federal government, while the Drug Enforcement Administration has found that K2 was responsible for the recent New Haven Green incident.
A closer look at K2
K2 has been around since the early 2000’s with manufacturers advertising the synthetic drug as “a safe alternative” to marijuana. K2 can be best described as a designer-drug that is packed with psychoactive compounds that are then sprayed onto plant material.
Users can smoke, drink, eat or vape K2 which mimics the effects of the THC compound inherent in marijuana and which is responsible for producing a high. However, K2’s chemical compounds aren’t disclosed to consumers,that increases the danger of toxicity levels andthe resulting bad side effects.
Alarm bells about K2
Alarm bells started ringing in 2017, when the Trends in Pharmacological Sciences journal published a review of studies on synthetic marijuana, concluding that this form of drug is more hazardous than weed. Researchers found that the compounds in synthetic marijuana produced “a variety of dangerous, acute and chronic adverse effects” and they concluded that synthetic marijuana’s side effects occurred more frequently and were more severe than with the use of genuine weed. They said K2/Spice products were “clearly not safe marijuana alternatives.”
Their findings were echoed by the Assistant Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Health, Dr Hillary Kunins, who described K2 as a “very risky substance” with significant health consequences. Dr Kunins, who was also the leader of the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention, Care and Treatment, described synthetic marijuana as a drug with unpredictable and serious side effects and a substance that should never be used flippantly.
Her sentiments are supported by health officials nationwide who have appealed to consumers to steer clear of K2 products and to seek immediate medical assistance if suffering ill-effects after use.