GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The newest trend for people who want to get high without usingmarijuana is called K-2, or "spice." But just because it's legaldoesn't mean it's safe, doctors said Thursday.
K-2 is marketed as fragrant potpourri or incense, and it'scompletely legal in Michigan.
"We sell it, we market it as an incense," Shakedown Streetco-owner Joe Krzeminski said. "We understand that people are usingit for other things."
There is a warning label on the packaging of K-2, warning peoplenot to smoke it -- but that's exactly what they're doing.
The ingredients are not listed on the packaging, and employeesat the Grand Rapids smoke shop said they don't know exactly what'sin the K-2.
But doctors told 24 Hour News 8 on Thursday it's basically madeof dried herbs or flowers, laced with a synthetic form of THC --the active ingredient in marijuana.
"Why anyone would want to smoke potpourri is beyond me,"Krzeminski said. "People are using this at a pretty high levelbecause it's not illegal at this point."
The incense sells for between $30 and $90 per packet, which isup to 100 times more expensive than some other incense in thestore.
Extensive research has not been conducted on the drug, doctorssaid, adding that the synthetic THC used wasn't even created until1995.
But smoking K-2 even a few times can cause serious, long-termside effects, they said.
"What most people hope it does, is it makes you relaxed andcomfortable, like marijuana," said Dr. R. Corey Waller of theSpectrum Health Emergency Department. "The problem is, it doespretty much the opposite. Your brain is basically having a horriblybad trip."
K-2 can be more dangerous than some illegal drugs, Wallersaid.
"It can make you a little bit high, but can also give yousignificant medical problems consistently," he said. Some of theproblems associated with K-2 are depression, anxiety andhallucinations.
Although Waller said he has only seen one case in the ER wheresomeone came in under the influence of K-2, he said it's still agrowing problem.
"It's a difficult thing to diagnose as a physician, because thevast majority of the time, it's taken along with other drugs, andso it's difficult when you have multiple different things in thesystem because they start to overlap in what they do."
Shakedown Street sells it to people of all ages, employees said.But if evidence is released revealing K-2 and similar products areunhealthy, the store plans to stop selling it.
"As soon as I hear anything negative -- if there's any concreteevidence that this is harming anyone or there's a bad trip, likewith the salvia, I'll pull it off the shelves immediately and we'lltrash the shop," Krzeminski said.
24 Hour News 8 spoke with officials at Spectrum Health, St.Mary's and Metro Hospitals and they say they haven't seen a hugesurge in cases. The U.S. Justice Department issued a drug alertabout K-2 earlier this month.
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