“Fake Pot” Growing Among Youth in NYC
It’s called “synthetic marijuana” and it’s being sold online and in convenience stores in the city. Storekeepers can’t keep in on the shelf. Unfortunately, it’s dangerous and unregulated, and it’s growing in popularity among young people.
According to one person, who has tried “Spice” or “K2”, there are only two reasons to use it: to not get busted by the cops or to not fail a drug test. Aside from that, many who have smoked it say the buzz is short-lived, unpleasant, and causes headaches, among other things.
Officials say the substance causes much more than a short buzz and a headache, however. As a matter of fact, fake pot has been blamed for several incidents of violence including one last week where a 17-year old stabbed a sleeping friend to death while high on Spice, saying he had the “urge to hurt someone,” according to the NY Daily News.
Right now, the substance is legal in New York. The federal government’s DEA has moved to try and ban the ingredients, but manufacturers simply change the formula to get around the laws.
The packages are small, sold in one gram increments for about $25, and they caution against “burning” or “consumption,” but that’s exactly what people are doing and the manufacturers know it. There is rarely any manufacturer information on the packages, making it difficult to know who is behind the products.
“People have the mind-set that this is ‘just pot’,” according to Dr, Lewis Nelson of NYU Langone and Bellevue hospitals. “It’s dangerous, and there is no quality control in what you are getting.”
The similarities to pot are what have these incense products flying off the shelves. They reportedly mimic THC, the active component in marijuana, by binding to the same receptors in the brain. But the effects are said to be far different and unpredictable.
Young people are the largest consumers of these products and their growing popularity has landed many in the hospital. Fifty-seven people have ended up in city emergency rooms in the past 12 months. Calls to poison control centers have grown exponentially, from 13 in 2009 to more than 6,900 in 2011.
Most people opt to use real marijuana when they want the effects of pot. It’s only the wide availability and the current legal nature of Spice that keeps it in demand.
No matter how popular this fake-marijuana is, it won’t likely surpass the popularity of the real thing, and the NYPD knows this. Arrests for pot are steady regardless of any policy changes within the department or memos issued from administration. Cops want to bust marijuana users.
If you are accused of marijuana possession or even distribution, we may be able to help.