The Next New Drug of Choice? Ersatz Marijuana!


Reason readers know we love "new drug of choice" stories, mostly imagined tales of dangerous new intoxicants sweeping the country, especially "the heartland," like hula hoops of yore. Coke is the new pot, which was the new crack after heroin was the new drug of choice, and on and on. And, lest we forget, pot was "the hula hoop of the Jet Generation!"

Here's the latest cycle: the fake pot product K2, a.k.a. "spice," "genie," or "zohai" (because all new threats need exotic, dangerous-sounding names). Sez AP in an article titled "Cops: Imitation pot as bad as the real thing,"

There may be nothing like the real thing, but some industrious marijuana users have seized on an obscure but easily accessible substance that mimics the drug's effects on the brain—creating a popular trade in legal dope that has stymied law enforcement authorities. The users are buying a product known as K2—or "Spice," Genie" and "Zohai"—that is commonly sold in head shops as incense. Produced in China and Korea, the mixture of herbs and spices is sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Users roll it up in joints or inhale it from pipes, just like the real thing.

Though banned in most of Europe, K2's key ingredients are not regulated in the United States—a gap that has prompted lawmakers in Missouri and Kansas to consider new legislation.

"This isn't Jerry Garcia's marijuana," said state Rep. Jeff Roorda, a Democrat from the eastern Missouri town of Barnhart. "They've used chemicals to avoid creating something that's already illegal."…

A proposed bill in Missouri would make possession a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison—identical to punishments given to users of real marijuana. A similar bill in Kansas would make possession a misdemeanor punishable, with up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine, also the same as marijuana convictions….

The worst part of it all? Even by reading about it, you may be part of the problem!

Conner Moore, 20, who is taking a semester off from Moberly Community College, said he and his friends started smoking K2 after reading online news articles and postings about the substance. He compares the high to smoking medical marijuana. The high, he says, is shorter.

Full story.

Bonus: Great moments in the drug war Kulturkampf.