Abuse of K2 (also known as Spice), a form of synthetic marijuana has exploded this year. K2 is popular among teens; it can be purchased in most smoke shops, gas stations, party stores, and on the internet for as little as $10. It is extremely dangerous; far more dangerous than marijuana.
Teens are smoking K2/Spice without a clear understanding of the consequences. Originally marketed as a potpourri or incense, kids are spraying the mixture of dried herbs and spices with a synthetic compound similar to the psychotropic drugs used in marijuana. Not only is it extremely addictive, the drug can cause hallucinations, vomiting, heart attacks strokes, and psychological effects such as paranoia and panic attacks. Because it appears to be stored in the body for long periods of time, long-term effects are not fully known.
According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, K2 is the second most used drug by Michigan teens and young adults. On April 16, a 19-year-old Michigan teen and his friend were high on K2 when they beat the teen’s father to death with a baseball bat and seriously injured his mother and one brother. Over the Memorial Day weekend, an 18-year-old was found dead from what appears to be an accidental overdose from smoking Spice.
Why has this dangerous drug not been banned in all states? Because it is like a moving target; as soon as the substance is banned, the ingredients are changed. This also makes it difficult for doctors to treat patients. Many businesses are not willing to help by pulling the product from its store shelves. A Michigan coalition group talked to businesses in the community. Later, they sent in an older adult to one of the businesses; the employee said they were not selling K2. When the coalition sent in a teen shortly thereafter, the drug was available for purchase. Why, profits! A Mobil gas station owner said, “If I don't sell it, and every other party station sells it, I might as well close my doors. Everybody is buying it; it's in high demand.
What can you do to help protect our kids? Everyone needs to be aware of the signs and symptoms of K2 use; the substance is readily available nationwide. Educate yourself and learn what to look for in your teen's behavior and become familiar with K2's packaging. Most importantly, learn how to confront your teen about drug use, what to do if your child is suffering side affects from the drug, and where to go if your teen is abusing drugs. See what your state is doing to ban this drug and support legislation to ban the different compounds more quickly. To business owners, act responsibly and show a commitment to safety over profits.
Mark Bello has thirty-five years experience as a trial lawyer and thirteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice and Public Citizen, Business Associate of the Florida, Mississippi, Connecticut, Texas, and Tennessee Associations for Justice, and Consumers Attorneys of California, member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.