K2 vs. Marijuana: Why The Synthetic Is So Much More Dangerous

July 31, 2017

Do not confuse marijuana with a synthetic version marketed as K2 or Spice. Marijuana, now legal for medical purposes in 29 states (in Connecticut, a 2.5-ounce limit per month) and the District of Columbia, has earned a reputation as a drug known for a laid-back high and its increasing medicinal usage.

K2, however, is a dangerous hallucinogen linked to violent behavior and erratic behavior.

“It’s like getting all the potential bad effects or side effects of marijuana at once,” says Dr. Craig AllenRushford‘s medical director. “It can provide a pretty nasty punch and in some cases can be fatal.”

K2 can cause:

  • Psychotic symptoms (paranoia, hallucinatiaons).
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Elevated blood pressure.
  • Kidney damage.
  • Tremors.
  • Mood changes.
  • Depression.
  • Tremors.
  • Seizures.
  • Sweating.
  • Headache.

“At times,” says Peter Reichard, New London’s acting police chief, “when people are on K2 or Spice they’re out of control and have superhuman strength and it takes a number of first-responders to actually secure them.”

New London police and the fire department responded to seven K2 overdoses within nine hours on a single day earlier this month. Within a week, 14 K2 overdoses were reported in New London.

Earlier in the month, 102 people in Lancaster County, Pa., overdosed on K2 in three days. Last summer, 33 people were sent to the hospital after a mass K2 overdose. None of the overdoses in either New London, Lancaster County or New York were fatal.

How to tell the difference between K2 and marijuana: K2 smells like chemicals and marijuana is naturally pungent.

One in 10 high school students have reported using synthetic marijuana, adding to existing concerns about opioid, heroin and prescription drug abuse.

“There are 169 towns and villages in Connecticut, and every community has people who are dealing with these issues,” says Jim O’Dea, the Behavioral Health Network‘s vice president of operations.

For information on the Behavioral Health Network’s MATCH (Medication Assisted Treatment Close to Home) program, click here.