U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officials recently announced a temporary ban on a popular new marijuana substitute known as “K2” or “Spice”, that contains various natural herbs and a synthetic spray coating that makes the blend have a marijuana-like effect on the body. According to officials, the synthetic spray contains five dangerous chemicals that are sending users to the emergency room.
“Makers of these harmful products mislead their customers into thinking that ‘fake pot’ is a harmless alternative to illegal drugs, but that is not the case,” explained Michele Leonhart, acting administrator at the DEA, in a statement. “Today’s action (banning the chemicals) will call further attention to the risks of ingesting unknown compounds and will hopefully take away any incentive to try these products.”
Currently, the chemicals are not a controlled substance, which means they are fully legal. And since makers of such products label them with disclaimers saying they not intended for human consumption, there is really no course of action that authorities can take to curb use. Subsequently, the popularity of artificial marijuana, especially among young people, has risen dramatically in recent years.
An ABC News report explains that the number of people harmed and sent to emergency rooms because of artificial marijuana has “risen exponentially” over the past year and a half. And according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there have already been 500 cases of adverse reactions to the drug this year, which include severe seizures and losing consciousness.
“You’re basically playing Russian roulette with these chemicals,” explained Gary Boggs, a special agent at the DEA, to ABC News. “Hallucination, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure … these chemicals appear to bind to certain parts of the brain, so the potential for long-term effects are very deadly.”