The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Joplin Metro

February 25, 2010

Possible crackdown apparently stubbing mock-marijuana sales

By Jeff Lehr

Recent retail availability in Joplin of a legal synthetic form of marijuana, known as K2, appears to be shrinking in the face of a possible government crackdown.

K2, or Spice as it is most often called, has been available in recent months at some tobacco stores and at least one head shop in Joplin. But local retailers now seem to be voluntarily discontinuing sales.

The product, a mix of herbs and spices sprayed with a synthetic compound similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, has been commonly sold as incense. But buyers have been smoking it to obtain a high similar to marijuana.

Chemical added

Kelly Maddy, president of the Joplin Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the herbs and spices in a package of K2 are not what get smokers high. It’s the chemical with which they are treated.

“It’s not a natural (cannabinoid) like marijuana,” Maddy said. “It’s a research chemical.”

The chemical interacts with receptors in the brain in a manner similar to THC. But K2 users test clean for THC, making it appealing to some people who face drug tests in the workplace or others on court-ordered probation, Maddy said.

He said some people who have tried K2 tell him that it differs from marijuana in at least two respects. The high lasts just 15 to 30 minutes. Maddy said K2 users also have reported experiencing feelings of anxiety and paranoia that they associate with first-time use of marijuana; such feelings tend to disappear with repeated use of pot.

K2’s ingredients are not yet regulated in the U.S., although they are banned in Europe.

Not illegal

The popularity of K2 use in the Joplin area remains open to debate.

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A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. Would you vote in favor of it?

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