One Last Hit of K-2

Fake weed's final freewheeling days

November 24, 2010, Washington D.C.: Using its emergency powers, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced that it will temporarily ban five synthetic marijuana compounds,often known by brand names such as K-2 or Spice, effective in "no fewer than 30 days."

— from the DEA Website

This report was written in the last freewheeling days before the federal ban.

The author and friends roll up a dud joint behind a north Montrose bar on a sunny Indian summer afternoon. Contrary to what that Atlantic Monthly might believe, this K-2 Blue stuff was not the answer in "the case against cynicism."
The author and friends roll up a dud joint behind a north Montrose bar on a sunny Indian summer afternoon. Contrary to what that Atlantic Monthly might believe, this K-2 Blue stuff was not the answer in "the case against cynicism."
Each of these little bags of synthetic weed cost $20 at a Montrose convenience store...
Each of these little bags of synthetic weed cost $20 at a Montrose convenience store...

At first, it seemed like there wasn't much to this synthetic cannabis malarkey. Tasked by my editor with staking out the wilds of these new, legal "herbal incense" smoking products, I had duly hopped on my bike and gone out and plunked down a total of $20 plus tax for two anemic 1.5-gram sachets of two different brands of the stuff.

The deal went down at a shady, Vietnamese-run Montrose convenience store, Cypress Hill's "Hand on the Pump" blaring in my ears from my iPod as the product exchanged hands.

One of the bags went by "K-2 Blue" and the other was an allegedly mango-flavored concoction called "Spicy Green Herbal Mysteries." (Had I been so inclined, I could have also chosen Spice, Yucatan Fire, Solar Flare, or my favorite brand name, Happy Shaman Herbs. In addition to convenience stores and gas stations, head shops are gold mines for the stuff.)

The little sacks sat in a desk drawer for a while, but at a staff party in October, some co-workers and I twisted up a J of the K-2 Blue and fired it up. The effects were minimal, possibly only imaginary. I noticed, or thought I noticed, that the colors in Greek Village along lower West Gray might have seemed a little more vibrant on that warm Indian summer afternoon. And perhaps I was a little more amenable towards certain co-workers with whom I have had testy relationships. It was very forgettable, and it seemed like just another bogus legal "substitute" for an illegal drug, like Ecstasy's no-account little sister Eve back in the day.

Meanwhile, on a slow Friday afternoon a couple of weeks later at work, I happened upon the Herbal Mysteries Spicy Green and some leftover Zig Zags in my desk drawer. Oh well, I thought, let's give this crapola one last chance. Maybe different brands had different effects. That was what it said on the Internet, anyway, and we all know the Internet never lies.

There so happened to be a couple of friends of a co-worker on the premises, and these two guys, whom we'll call "Moises" and "Hector," expressed an interest in joining me.

Moises, a bespectacled, twentysomething Hispanic man with a shaven head, said he had a long and fruitful relationship with the "Kush" brand of synthetic marijuana. He had a little bag of it in his pocket even then. He said he smoked it just about every day.

Sure, he allowed, he would rather be smoking real weed, but he said he was subject to drug-testing at his job, and since this stuff didn't show up on his urinalysis, it was his only choice.

"It kinda relaxes you at night, or sometimes I smoke a little through the day," he said, and added that he was careful never to get too high at work. (He's a telemarketer.) "I smoke half of a little tiny joint, and they will last a good while. I don't do it in big amounts."

He said it was safe; he'd never had any problems with it, except for that one time... "I'd smoked some and I was driving, and I kinda nodded off, except instead of my head falling forward, it fell back."

He chuckled and shook his head. "I got carried away that time," he said.

Hmmm. Moises didn't look like the kind of guy who would fake a high. And why would anyone pretend to nod off like that behind the wheel? Maybe there was something to this after all.

The three of us adjourned to the parking lot behind the Houston Press building, right there across the street from the new downtown YMCA on the corner of Pease and Milam. We sparked up my poorly rolled joint of Spicy Green Herbal Mysteries. I could feel it hit, or "bind to my receptors" as the chemists would say, even before I exhaled the first lungful of odd-smelling smoke. I passed it to Moises, who passed it to Hector. And repeat. And repeat again. Conversation ground to a halt, as did time. A cop car slid south down Milam, about 100 feet from us.

"I wonder what would happen if he stopped and questioned us," wondered Hector aloud.

We chuckled and shook our heads. There wasn't a damn thing he could do. As these products are officially marketed as incense and labeled "Not for Human Consumption," there is no law, or at least no law in Houston (yet), against possessing or smoking them. We could just as easily have been toking on banana peels as far as the cops were concerned.

But to me, this stuff was far, far more potent than banana peels. (Yep, I once tried them too.) A few minutes later, my feet and hands had gone cold. I had major cottonmouth. And to put it simply, I was freakin' stoned.

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21 comments
Ericweedhub
Ericweedhub

Better get cannabis at the medical marijuana dispensaries to be sure of the quality.There are numerous medical uses for marijuana, so if used as medicine maybe it can affect the user in a bad way if the quality is bad.

Aubrey88
Aubrey88

I know they are trying to close any loopholes that current k2 incense manufacturers are trying to get around but my friends still buy k2 incense from places that still claim to offer legal everywhere k2 herb blends like http://www.buyherbalincense.co... As long as marijuana is prohibited there is going to be a niche for marijuana alternatives.

whats my house worth
whats my house worth

So how are parents supposed to determine what drug their child has taken when they get suspicious or worried? Parents should be on the lookout for something that looks like incense and teens who seem more anxious than usual. Although you won't know for sure, you have more information to go on and can seek the right kind of help.

anewday23
anewday23

Providing there are age restrictions, what makes whatever someone decides to put into their body any of your business? It's funny how people go on an on about the government taking away our rights, and then they turn around and support bans on marijuana and even this K2 herb stuff. Grow up and get real. Products like K2 incense are a result of the complete and utter failure that is Prohibition. These bans have been issued for at least the past year and it looks like they've done no good at all because places like, http://www.k2incenseblend.com to this day have products that are legal in all of the United States.

anewday23
anewday23

When will we learn that drug prohibition is absolutely futile especially in the case of k2 herb products? Not all of this k2 incense stuff is illegal. They are constantly reformulating it to get around these bans so people will continue to legally buy k2 products and I guess the big dogs will continue to waste money on chasing it down.

Himalayan Salt Lamp
Himalayan Salt Lamp

i looooove spicy green, it's so awesome, but i get it cheaper at high times, 1.5g for about 10$....i smoke it daily and just had a full physical with blood work and I'm fine. I've been smoking it for about a year. Only thing that doesn't make me cough...I smoke some weed now and cough my ass off. Just love it!

Rachel
Rachel

I agree with a lot of what you said. It can be really scary if you take too much, I had my first panic attack high using synthetic, which is what I think accounts for the calls to poison control. People don't know what's going on because you can get too high very easily and it's harsh so it can give you a headache or make you nauseous. I've always noticed that the high is a little fluffier feeling. It's not as intense and heavy as weed, but not by much, and you only need a little bit to smoke. 1 gram can last me a long time, whereas one gram of real weed can be smoked fast, because you need bigger bowls and it takes a little longer to kick in. I'm really happy that you smoked it too. That's honest reporting. For you to be able to actually experience the high and say that it didn't make you sick and that you didn't have a heart attack shows that people aren't dropping like flies from this stuff. There's too much hysteria around it and it's really uncalled for. This stuff has been around for years. If anybody does get sick from it, it's usually because they smoked too much, used it in conjunction with other drugs, or they were possibly allergic to that particular blend. I doubt I will get lung cancer from smoking this stuff until I can find a connection. If I do, it's from my cigarettes, and the mice in that study were euthanized, so we didn't see the long term effects and we have no way of knowing how the drug was administered. Remember that study about the apes getting high to see if it killed brain cells? Apparently, the scientists forced them to inhale it through gas masks and kept them on for up to 4 minutes per session. So, yeah, of course you are going to brain damage if you are deprived of oxygen for up to four minutes a day. I think we are getting these same bunk studies from scientists being funded by people who don't want to see this stuff be a legal alternative to weed. How did they know the dosage? I'm assuming if the critters got lung cancer they ingested it through smoke. That would make it extremely difficult to get the dosage right. One hit for me and I'm stoned, I can't imagine how much they gave those mice. But who knows. Maybe it's the equivalent of arsenic.

Jordan R.
Jordan R.

Personally i never have had K2 but have had plenty of others and they have been great. The best is Mindscense and Purple Space. Mindscense is my personal favorite. It goes down very smooth and it is very potent. But is only in a select few smoke shops. None have proven to due any harm except get me stoned of my ass. But other than that, its been lovely while it lasted :)

TheJables
TheJables

Great article! As a K2 user, I seem to run into the same facts in the articles, and they all seem to spin their bias one way or another. You definitely showed a balanced perspective, and had new information I hadn't read before.

I've had 0 issues with k2, other than it is inconsistent. but i like to experiment and try different "flavors" of k2. I've had some where a quarter of a bowl is plenty (K2 pink), and some where I can smoke 3 bowls and just feel a similar buzz to that of a hydrocodone (k2 Pineapple).

The main difference I see between K2 Spice, and spicy green(blueberry), was that k2 doesn't give the wobble vision as bad as the other incense.

Anyway, thanks again. Its good to know we may see k237 one day :)

oh and I do this cause I'm a working professional who has a family, but doesn't want to fail a drug test.

seen it my on eyes
seen it my on eyes

I recently experienced a K2 manufacturing/packaging plant. There was no weighing or measuring. It was very shady. The warehouse was lined with tables, plastic lined boxes and large mixing bowls, like in your kitchen. The "chemicals" were being hand tossed/mixed with flavor and inserted into baggies where a label was then applied. It is no wonder the effects are different from bag to bag.

Me
Me

I always thought the FDA had the authority to schedule substances as illegal and the DEA enforced the FDA's and federal government's regulations and laws. If the DEA has the authority to declare substances illegal, it is a scary expansion of power. The law enforcement apparatus should not have such authority in a democratic society. That is more Iran and less United States.

Bill
Bill

Just wanted to say I enjoyed the article. Good information to have.

blacksteelinthehourofchaos
blacksteelinthehourofchaos

Yeah I know Lomax, was simply making a joke since there's been a lot of first hand investigative reporting going on up there at the Press. The article was great though- speaking of, I read an article not too long ago that was talking about people getting high off nutmeg. You ever heard of this? Now that's some crazy shit.

John Stirrup
John Stirrup

Good info, had no idea that the K2 etc, used synthetic cannabinoids. I thought it was just potpourri and people were retarded to smoke it. Nice job on the article. You made Reddit.com

john lomax
john lomax

Blacksteel: I've never touched Four Loko -- that was Hlavaty.

David
David

So....a legal alternative that could possilby kill you vs. an illegal alternative that won't.

Geez.

Decisions, decisions.

Blacksteelinthehourofchaos
Blacksteelinthehourofchaos

Damn Lomax, two weeks ago you boys were sipping 4 loko straight from the can, now your smoking K2. What's next, duster and co2 cartridges? Lol. No but seriously I highly doubt they will able to regulate thisby banning merely a few blends and certain chemicals, people can get this if they really want to. Especially in the digital age, where everything is a keyword search away. I've never smoked it, as I'm a dedicated weed smoker, but I had lunch with a friend of mine about 2 months ago before he took a job in Lousiana and he had just smoked a joint of Serenity. He walked into the restaurant with his glasses on, but when he took them off his eyes were glazed to hell, and bloodshot red. He looked like shit but I could tell he was stoned off his ass.

The only reason I'm against this is because nothings really known about it. If you wanna get high, more power to you but don't jeopardize yourself. Hopefully we all see the day where weed becomes legal so folks can enjoy a genuine high with no side effects. Gimmicky shit like K2 needs to go, not knowing what your smoking is never a good thing.

Mach Schnell
Mach Schnell

Great and timely story, John. I share your concerns about the dangers of K2's unknown quality; and my teen-aged son experimenting with its myriad incarnations. Seems like a good argument for legalization and regulation. As long as there is demand, all sorts of highs will be brought to market, with no oversight of the ingredients and potential hazards. Legalize, regulate, propagandize against the use, and treat the abusers. Reaping the revenue is just (badly needed) gravy.

 
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