2010-June-22, K2 -- A Synthetic Chemicals Produces Like Marijuana, Parents Should Keep Alert

Parents aware of teen drug use should know the facts of smoking K2. Sold as incense, herbs and spices treated with synthetic chemicals produces a high like marijuana.

Any parent who is raising a teenager in this day and age knows how tough it is for a young person to fit in with the crowd. Even the best students give in to peer-pressure now and then, seeing little or no harm in doing something that's perfectly legal. Unfortunately, a legal – and potentially harmful – substance is attracting kids in droves. Incense isn't regulated, so anyone, including children, can buy it.
K2, otherwise known as "fake pot," is produced in China and Korea. It's sold online, and can be found in smoke shops and stores where incense is sold. How popular is K2? Merchants who sell the pricey bags of fragrant herbs can't keep the stuff on the shelves.
What Is K2 and How are Teenagers Using It?
K2 is incense – a blend of herbs and spices sprayed with a synthetic compound similar to THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) found in marijuana. The combination looks like crushed potpourri. Blends are traditionally burned in incense pots; however, teens roll the K2 incense in wrappers to make joints, or they smoke it in pipes. When smoked, K2 delivers a high similar to that of marijuana. Users claim it's almost impossible to tell the difference between the two.
Sold under names like Supernova, Spice, Genie, Zohai, and Spirit, the incense is even sold by the gram, just like marijuana. Blends of K2 include Blonde, Citron, Summit, and Standard, just to name a few kinds.
Is There Any Harm in Smoking K2?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) describes the effects of marijuana on the brain in the NIDA website article, "NIDA Info Facts: Marijuana" (no author, 7/09). "... marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory."
Marijuana increases the heart rate and irritates the lungs in much the same way as tobacco use causes respiratory problems for smokers. Marijuana may also affect mental health, contributing to depression, anxiety, and even schizophrenia.
K2 is stronger and more dangerous than marijuana. The drug moves quickly from the lungs into the bloodstream where it is carried to other parts of the body, including the vital organs.
Katy Bergen of the Columbia Missourian website provided an article, "Kansas Lab Looked at Synthetic Marijuana's Effect on Brain" (Feb. 2010). Bergen writes, "But the compounds in K2 are three to five times more potent than THC found in marijuana." And, "The psychoactive drug can cause users to experience rapidly increased heart rates, loss of consciousness, paranoia and, occasionally, psychotic episodes."
Questions Parents Should Ask about Kids Smoking K2
K2 causes more intense brain-altering effects than marijuana. The "fake pot" is easily accessible to teens. How can a parent tell if a teen (or child) is smoking K2? Parents have every reason to be concerned and are urged to ask questions:
What are the long-term effects of K2?
Does smoking K2 lead to hard drugs?
How will K2 affect student performance in colleges and high schools?
How does using K2 affect driving and will it cause more teen injuries or deaths on the road?
Where are kids getting the money to buy K2 incense?
Has there been any change in the teen's personality or behavior?
Is there any physical evidence – paper wrappers, pipe, bags of incense, etc. – that indicates K2 drug use?
The long-term effects of K2 have yet to be determined; but if the experts are right and smoking K2 is determined to cause irreversible damage to the brain, then many career dreams and goals for success will certainly go up in smoke.
Does K2 Show Up in a Drug Test?
Many employers require drug testing for new and existing employees. To date, K2 does not show up on drug tests, but a testing method will no doubt become available if K2 is declared illegal nationwide. By then it may be too late for many young adults who test positive from frequent long-term use.
The CBS News website reports in an Associated Press article, "States Consider Banning "K2" Imitation Pot" (no author, Feb. 2010). The article states, "K2 costs between $20 and $50 for three grams – similar to the street price of marijuana – but with the key advantages of being legal and undetectable in drug tests."
K2 Drug May Cause Immediate Adverse Effects for Some Users
Teenagers want to believe smoking K2 is safe, but it's possible that a user could experience immediate adverse effects. Some smokers pass out. K2 users shouldn't drive after smoking a joint, as the drug effect compares to driving under the influence of alcohol.
It's too soon to say if long-term use of K2 causes permanent harm. Evidence shows that K2 has the potential to damage the lungs, brain, heart, and other vital organs. The drug affects different people in different ways, so there is no way to determine how it will react in an individual. A parent who suspects his teen or child may be smoking incense is wise to confront the issue and ask questions before any possible damage becomes evident and irreversible.



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