K2 and "Spice" are often marketed as incense and sold in packets of herbs that are laced (often sprayed) with synthetic marijuana at "head shops" and online. The drug also goes by other names, including Spice Gold, Spice Diamond, Yucatan Fire, Solar Flare, Genie, PEP Spice and Fire n' Ice, according to the U.S. Drug Intelligence Center.
While people who smoke K2 are seeking a marijuana-like high, there have been many previous reports of young people going to the emergency room because of agitation, anxiety, racing heartbeat and elevated blood pressure, Scalzo said.
The drug itself was developed in the mid 1990s in the lab of John Huffman, a Clemson University chemist, who was conducting U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse-supported research on cannabinoids. The chemical, which he called JWH-018 and JWH-073, was similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, only more potent.
"These compounds were not meant for human consumption," Huffman said. "Their effects in humans have not been studied and they could very well have toxic effects. They absolutely should not be used as recreational drugs."
Since 2009, increasing numbers of reports from poison centers and hospitals of kids becoming ill from smoking K2 prompted at least 16 states and some counties to outlaw K2. In March, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) used its "emergency scheduling authority" to make possessing or selling JWH-018 and four other similar chemicals illegal.
"The temporary scheduling action will remain in effect for at least one year while the DEA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services further study whether thes
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