Effective today, a legal drug that many teens call “fake pot” is now illegal nationwide.
It’s known by many different names like K-2, Spice, Black Mamba, and “fake weed.” The substance is marketed as home incense, but it is being used for much different purposes and could have potentially dangerous effects.
“If it's called legal weed, and weed is already illegal. Then it obviously wasn't something good to come up with,” says Corporal Jason Adkins with the Dothan Police Department.
Synthetic marijuana products were already banned in 6 states, including Alabama. Now the US Drug Enforcement Administration has made it a federal ban.
The products are often marketed as incense, but buyers use it to get high.
The, now illegal, synthetic marijuana is a mixture of herbs and spices, sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the prime ingredient in marijuana. It was very appealing to teens.
“It was another way to get high and there wasn't anything law enforcement could do about it,” says Corporal Adkins.
Experts say the effect is just as dangerous as the actual drug. Teenagers have been hospitalized, suffered severe hallucinations, increased heart rate, seizures, and even death.
“They also change the way you think and act. Your motor skills deteriorate tremendously on this stuff,” says Corporal Adkins.
It was sold in brightly colored packages in tobacco and convenience stores throughout the country. One Dothan business owner says he never sold k-2, but he had similar products.
“We made sure everything was not prohibited by the state of the law. We had lab work done to make sure everything was in line. I guess in a couple of months we sold 40 or 50, but not much,” says Sammy Frichter, owner of Smokies Tobacco Shop.
Now that the substance is deemed illegal, law enforcement officers have the task of policing it, but will need your help to be affective.
Adkins says, “The Dothan Police Department along with all local, state, federal law enforcement agencies depend on the citizens.”
Very little research has been done on the substance, and the long-term effects on the body have not been determined.
Right now, local officials say they aren't sure if those caught with synthetic marijuana will be charged with a misdemeanor or felony.