Lifewatch: K2 drug acts like marijuana

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - A drug called K2 is starting to make waves in Kansas, and it's merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to so-called "legal drugs."

It looks and works a lot like marijuana, but it's legal.  The synthetic substance has just started showing up around the Kansas City area.

"According to about 10 to 15 interviews I've done, it's supposed to be more potent than most versions of marijuana," said Johnson County Sheriff Deputy Chris Farkes.

One store said they've had many customers asking for K-2, but don't have it yet.  Instead, they offered a number of other legal alternatives.

A pricey plethora of pills and extracts that promised everything from body tingles and euphoric rushes to relaxation, pain relief, and mood elevation.

Dr. David Eichhorn, the chair of Wichita State's chemistry department, agreed to analyze the samples.  He said it would take weeks to positively identify everything in the drugs, but his preliminary findings were eye opening.

"One of the ingredients in there is one that would potentially get across the blood brain barrier and the reality is if you do play around these types of compounds you run the risk of seriously upsetting the balance in the brain," said Dr. Eichhorn.

K2 was created in a chemistry lab, and since it's synthetic it's not covered by law - although police who have come into contact with it, think it should be.

After recently finding out about the drug, Representative Peggy Mast is looking into passing legislation next session to make K2 illegal.

"My concern was we don't know where it's coming from, there's no quality control on this product," said Mast.  "We don't know the people who are selling it, what they're cutting it with, we don't the dangers are kids are taking by experimenting with it."

Mast sponsored legislation in the past that outlaws hallucinogenic plants and salvia, but says lawmakers can't keep up with everything that's on the shelves.

Those who sold the products say they don't sell them to anyone who's under 18, and adults can make their own decisions.

They also say the substance is mostly herbal and isn't as harmful as alcohol.