The illegal use of drugs affects everyone in our community. Recognizing these drugs and learning about the threats they pose can help reduce drug related crime.
There has recently been a significant amount of media attention given to synthetic drugs in our communities that are described as “K2 or Spice” and “Bath Salts”.
“K2” or “Spice” are brand names that refer to synthetic cannabinoids which are commonly known as synthetic or fake marijuana. These substances bear a resemblance to real marijuana and are commonly smoked like real marijuana; however, they do not contain T.H.C. which is the active ingredient in real marijuana. These substances are chemicals that are sprayed over herbal products similar to potpourri. When smoked, these products give the user a high similar to real marijuana. These products are typically sold over the internet, at gas stations and convenience stores, in head shops, and on the street. They are typically packaged in square foil type packets or in plastic vials/jars. They are sold under a wide variety of names such as “K2, Spice, Kush, Diamond, Fire & Ice, Magic, Mystic, 420, Wicked X, Baked” just to name a few. They are usually marketed as “Herbal Incense” and are labeled not for human consumption. The chemicals contained in these products are typically produced overseas with little to no regulation and the long term effects on the human body are untested and unknown. There have been several documented cases of illnesses from ingesting “K2” type products requiring emergency care here in Washington County. Nationwide there have been countless reports associated with “K2” at poison control centers and emergency rooms with varying severity including death.
“Bath Salts” are another class of synthetic drug that have recently gained significant popularity in the United States. These products contain synthetic stimulants similar to that of cocaine and methamphetamines. The synthetic compounds typically found in “Bath Salts” are M.D.P.V. (Methylenedioxypyrovalerone) and Mephedrone. These compounds are particularly powerful psychoactive drugs with stimulant properties. These products are usually snorted or injected and sometimes smoked. Users of these products commonly become very aggressive and have violent episodes leading to assaults, self mutilation, as well as suicidal and homicidal behaviors. These products are also sold over the internet, at head shops, convenience stores, and on the streets. They are typically packaged under names such as “Ivory Wave, Bliss, Snow, White Lightning, Scarface, Blizzard, & Vanilla Sky”. They are also labeled not for human consumption. Physical effects include elevated heart rates and blood pressure, uncontrolled sweats, paranoia, hallucinations, and psychosis induced from lack of sleep. Like the chemicals found in “K2” type substances, the chemicals in “Bath Salts” are also manufactured primarily overseas with little to no regulation and the exact contents are often unknown. Nationwide, the reports of death, suicides, and extremely violent reactions associated with “Bath Salts” are common. Thankfully, Washington County has not yet had reports of problems associated with “Bath Salt” use.
These substances quickly gained popularity as the active ingredients were not illegal under the controlled substances act. They were seen as a “legal high”. In July 2011, Wisconsin enacted a statewide law that includes these substances and their analogs (chemical cousins) as Schedule I controlled substances. This law makes the delivery or possession with intent to deliver a felony in this state and simple possession a misdemeanor crime. The substances are also currently controlled under federal law under their emergency scheduling authority.