K2, also referred to as JWH-018, "fake weed" and "spice," is a new substance that is being smoked as a recreational drug that claims to be marijuana-esque but poses more serious health concerns from seizures to life-threatening hallucinations and cardiovascular effects.
On March 3, Dr. Anthony Scalzo, a professor of toxicology at Saint Louis University and director of Missouri Regional Poison Control Center, told LiveScience,a science and health site, "K2 may be a mixture of herbal and spice plant products, but it is sprayed with a potent psychotropic drug and likely contaminated with an unknown toxic substance that is causing many adverse effects."
John W. Huffman, an organic chemist at Clemson University, created a synthetic cannabinoid in his lab 20 years ago while studying "cannabinoid receptors." It is unclear to Huffman how his compound, named after him "JWH-018 (his initials)," became the main ingredient in K2. He remembers hearing it was being sold as a plant growth stimulant in Asia.
"Apparently somebody picked it up, I think in Europe, on the idea of doping this incense mixture with the compound and smoking it. You can get very high on it. It's about 10 times more active than THC," said Huffman.
"K2 has been sold since 2006 as incense or potpourri for about $30 to $40 per three gram bag - comparable in cost to marijuana," reported LiveScience, except given its potency it would average to a tenth of the price.
Scalzo says the symptoms can range from "fast heart beat, dangerously elevated blood pressure, pale skin and vomiting, severe, potentially life-threatening hallucinations and, in some cases, seizures."
Huffman commented, "it's like playing Russian roulette. You don't know what it's going to do to you. You're a potential winner of a Darwin award, do[ing] a service to humanity by removing themselves from the gene pool."
Originally tested on mice with no follow-up the long-term effects are unknown. "And mice are not humans," Huffman said.Reuse content