K2, Spice, Synthetic Marijuana
An artificial substitute for THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, is filtering into our region’s drug culture. JWH-018 was first created as a research tool at a
university in South Carolina. It is now commonly found in herbal mixtures with ‘Spice’ in their names – Spice Gold, Spice Yucatan Fire, etc. These products are sold as incense and labeled
“Not for Human Consumption”, yet young people around the world smoke or ingest them for a marijuana-like high. Quantities of JWH-018 in Spice packets tested varied widely, from as little as 0.2
percent of the total mixture to as much as 3 percent.
Spice-products as well as the chemical compound itself can be bought over the Internet. JWH-018 is not a controlled substance in the United States, although Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands have banned Spice.
In an interview with Chemistry World, the chemist who designed JWH-18 explained that his goal had been to make a simple compound for study into brain-substance relationships. It is not licensed anywhere for medical applications and there have been no studies done to find out its potential toxicity.
People seeking a high might think they are getting a good deal with Spice: It is legal, it’s easy to purchase and it is made in a laboratory. But there are dangers associated with the drug. Because it is not designed for human consumption, there may be toxic side effects from the production process. Its potency is not regulated. And users themselves have reported negative affects – some experience hallucinations, others report severe anxiety and/or panic attacks.
Parents need to be aware of Spice and JWH-018. You are urged to monitor your children’s Internet use, and any purchases made online. Take a close look at packaged incense, watching for ‘Spice’ in the name or a note that JWH-018 has been added. People using the compound to get high will use the same type of paraphernalia that marijuana users do: Bongs, pipes, etc. They may also show many of the same signs and symptoms of pot smokers – red eyes, slowed speech and movements, relaxed to lethargic attitudes. If you believe your child may be experimenting with Spice or any other substance, please call the Prairie View Prevention Services drug and alcohol counselor at your child’s school.
Sources: Chemistry World - Jan. 15 2009; US DoJ-DEA Office of Diversion Control - Spice and online drug user forums.