It’s legal, lethal and available in Royal Oak gas stations and convenience stores. K2, also known as Spice, is a synthetic substance marketed as an alternative to marijuana. It’s reportedly behind the weekend found uncooperative and speaking incoherently on his lawn and a 19-year-old Troy teen arrested for erratic driving early Monday morning.
Most notably, , 19, of Farmington Hills is believed to have been high on synthetic marijuana in April when he attacked his family, .
Spice is a form of synthetic marijuana that is commonly sold as incense, or potpourri. It was originally sold under the name K2, but legislation banned K2 in Michigan in October 2010. Since the ban, manufacturers are finding ways around the legislation by manufacturing variations of the banned substance, eliminating the chemicals that caused the original K2 to be banned.
According to an article in The Journal of School Safety, one in nine high school seniors has used synthetic marijuana in the past year.
With no ingredient list, and little history or testing done on the product, users – often teenagers, because there are no legal limits on to whom it can be sold –don’t quite know what they’re smoking when they take a hit of Spice.
Royal Oak Commissioner Peggy Goodwin, who sits on the Crime Prevention Council, is working with Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue and others on ways to keep , including trying to keep synthetic marijuana away from teens.
“The chief has sent me a list of five places in Royal Oak where Spice is available for purchase,” Goodwin said. Even though Royal Oak does not have any cases that directly link Spice use to crimes, "there is no question it is dangerous,” she said.
The following businesses are selling K-2/Spice, according to O'Donohue's list:
- at 4727 Coolidge
- at 1617 E. 12 Mile
- at 1201 N. Campbell
- at 624 E. 11 Mile
- at 1621 E. 11 Mile
Goodwin is asking residents to be eyes and ears for public safety and to call the police at 248-246-3500 if you see Spice for sale in Royal Oak.
Hallie Armstrong is a naturopathic doctor who specializes in natural therapies, including herbal medicine and mind-body medicine. Royal Oak Patch asked her about K2/Spice and its effects.
Patch: How do synthetic marijuana makers get away with this? Aren't they using substances that are banned?
Armstrong: The substances in the products are not illegal, they are not listed as controlled substances. With all "natural" products, there is little regulation, so it is important to check with your health care provider before you ingest any thing, even if it does come from a health food store or is available over the counter.
Patch: Is use of this product detectable in conventional drug tests?
Armstrong: Although it is not detectable in conventional drug tests, it is still important to remember that does not mean it's safe. No long-term studies have been done on synthetic marijuana so we do not know what it will do to us.
Patch: What kind of effect and/or side effects does it have?
Armstrong: It is reported that synthetic marijuana gives a similar high to marijuana but does not last as long. It is thought that it could cause some serious lung irritation. However, because no long-term studies have been done, we simply do not know the effects. It is also unknown what all is in each individual brand. The ingredients on the label do not always match the ingredients in the container. It is safest to stay away from the substance until further research is done.
Patch: What signs can a parent look for that their child may be a user?
Armstrong: Fake weed looks like a mixture of different shades of green herbs that are sold in small packets or Zip Lock bags. It is most important to talk to your children about the potential danger of using synthetic marijuana or any type of drug or natural supplement. Education and communication is the best way to tell if children are curious or have questions about substance abuse.