Pubdate: Wed, 08 Dec 2010
Source: Concord Monitor (NH)
Copyright: 2010 Monitor Publishing Company
Author: Tara Ballenger


Legal substance mimics marijuana

Officials in Franklin are trying to ban the sale of a K2, a legal
synthetic marijuana product that has popped up in gas stations and
head shops across the country.

The city's efforts coincide with an announcement by the Drug
Enforcement Administration that the substance will be banned for a
year beginning this month while the agency investigates its use.

K2, along with other brands such as Spice, is a mixture of herbs and
spices that is sprayed with a drug that mimics the effects of
tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana,
according to the DEA. While the drug in K2, JWH-018, binds to the same
receptors in the brain as THC, its chemical composition is different
from that of synthetic THC.

Many packages call the substance incense and feature a disclaimer
saying it's not for human consumption. People smoke the "fake pot"
products to attain a legal high.

"I'd like to see this substance taken off the shelves," said Franklin
police Chief David Goldstein, part of the mayor's drug and alcohol
abuse task force, where the idea to ban K2 originated a few months

The side effects from products like K2 are still being studied. Some
may include elevated heart rate and blood pressure and irritability,
according to reports from poison control centers across the country,
which have reported receiving a jump in calls about the substance.

Goldstein said that in the upcoming weeks, the task force will submit
proposed legislation to the Franklin City Council for review. After
that, the council will hold public hearings on an ordinance to ban the
product and then vote.

If passed, the ordinance would make possessing K2 illegal, but only in
Franklin and only as a violation of city ordinance - more like getting
a ticket for parking in a tow zone than being arrested for using
cocaine, Goldstein said. He said his intention isn't to bust users,
but to stop the sale of substances like K2 and Spice within the city,
in hopes of fewer teenagers having access to the drug.

The DEA announced last month that it was enacting an emergency ban on
the drug, which will last for one year while the administration
researches it and makes a decision about its possible permanent ban,
according to a release issued by the agency.

During that year, K2 will be considered a Schedule I drug, which is
the most restrictive category of drugs and includes illicit
substances. The ban will be enacted no later than Dec. 24. The agency
enacted the emergency ban out of concern for the safety of children
and consumers who don't know of the dangers of using K2 and similar
substances, according to a DEA press release.

Until the ban is official, some local stores will continue selling the
substance. An employee of Freehill Trading Co. in Tilton said it is a
popular product, and the store plans to carry it while it remains legal.
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