'Fake pot' can cause hallucinations and seizures

Published on March 4, 2010 at 8:07 AM · 10 Comments

In the last month, Anthony Scalzo, M.D., professor of toxicology at Saint Louis University, has seen nearly 30 cases involving teenagers who were experiencing hallucinations, severe agitation, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, vomiting and, in some cases, tremors and seizures. All of these teens had smoked a dangerous, yet legal substance known as K2 or "fake weed."

According to Scalzo, K2, an unregulated mixture of dried herbs, is growing in popularity because it is legal, purported to give a high similar to marijuana and believed to be natural and therefore safe.

"K2 may be a mixture of herbal and spice plant products, but it is sprayed with a potent psychotropic drug and likely contaminated with an unknown toxic substance that is causing many adverse effects. These toxic chemicals are neither natural nor safe," said Scalzo, who also directs the Missouri Regional Poison Control Center at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center.

What makes K2 so dangerous? Further testing is needed, but Scalzo says the symptoms, such as fast heart beat, dangerously elevated blood pressure, pale skin and vomiting suggest that K2 is affecting the cardiovascular system of users. It also is believed to affect the central nervous system, causing severe, potentially life-threatening hallucinations and, in some cases, seizures.

While JWH 018, a synthetic man-made drug, similar to cannabis, may be responsible for the hallucinations, Scalzo suspects that there is another unknown toxic chemical being sprayed on K2.

K2, also known as "spice," has been sold since 2006 as incense or potpourri. It sells for approximately $30 to $40 per three gram bag, which is comparable in cost to marijuana, and is available over the Internet.

"K2 use is not limited to the Midwest; reports of its use are cropping up all over the country. I think K2 is likely a bigger problem than we're aware of at this time," Scalzo said.

Legislators in Missouri currently are considering a proposed ban of K2, which Scalzo supports. In the meantime, he says that parents should be on the lookout for warning signs such as agitation, pale appearance, anxiety or confusion due to hallucinations.

"Look for dried herb residues lying around your kids' room. Chances are they are not using potpourri to make their rooms smell better or oregano to put on their pizza," Scalzo said.

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Comments
  1. Jane Jane United States says:

    The shift here is from a focus on marijuanna to an unregulated substance with alchohol type effects. We heard this kind of spin for 8 years with the previous admin. Enough.

  2. anonymous anonymous United States says:

    I have had severe side effects from smoking K2 and I'm trying to get my story out there as best I can for those who are considering it.

    I started smoking it maybe a month ago.  I love smoking pot, which has never affected me negatively, but the opportunity for something legal was too good to pass up.  After a couple of weeks, I had a small incident which I wrote off as a "panic attack" -- a sudden increase in anxiety, followed by a cold feeling in my hands and feet, shivering (from the cold? maybe not?), and a loss of color in my face.

    Yesterday I had a much worse experience of these same side effects.  I experienced muscle spasms all over my body, felt extremely cold, found it impossible to relax and control my breathing, and eventually experienced extreme anxiety that would be better described as "terror".  It took a couple of hours to pass, which constituted the worst drug experience of my life.  I will not touch the stuff again, because it is clearly dangerous for me.

    I would buy and smoke legalized marijuana in a heartbeat.  But this stuff... it's something else altogether.

  3. Cdr.Instigator Cdr.Instigator United States says:

    I have used "Serenity Now" 3 weekends in a row. 1.3 gr lasted me 3 nights, with no side effects except feeling the same effect as if I has just smoked a nice Joint.. Loved the stuff.

    As for K-2, I have never touched that one.. I'll stick to Serenity now for Now!!

  4. Isaac Isaac United States says:

    I smoked a small amount of this, taking deep hits, and what followed was a terrible experience.  I felt like I was going insane, that I was dying, and time stopped moving.  I wouldn't wish that feeling on my worst enemy.  In small amounts, some people seem to like it, but different people react differently to it.  Don't try it, is my advice, unless you want to know what it feels like to slip into Hell.

  5. Big Fella Big Fella Australia says:

    What the hell is sprafhalluyed? I have checked online dictionarys and apart from 3 hits on this subject it is nowhere else to be found.

    Is this a real word, a typo or a joke?

    • Editors Editors United States says:

      Neither do we! Anyway we checked the original submission against the source and have replaced that paragraph. Hopefully "sprafhalluyed" whilst it sounded interesting is no more. Thanks

  6. NUNYA NUNYA United States says:

    I'm 40 years old and have smoked for years, but quit about 6 months ago.....I tried a "fake" brand called chronic yesterday and thought i was going to die. Seriously. I took 3 hits and within 5 minutes felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. I broke out in a blood red rash, and shook uncontrolably. Afraid i was having a allergic reaction i chewed 3 benadryl which finally helped i think. But it was at least an hour and a half before i felt somewhat normal. It's a day later and i still don't feel quite right. I was very very close to calling an ambulance on myself. Don't do it people, it's so not worth it, and seems to affect people differently , from what i've read. Scared the living shit out of me.

    • cindi cindi United States says:

      Also tried it the other day with a similiar VERY negative experience.  Two hits and I was midly hallucinating and eventually throwing up.  I also was sweating really badly.  The experience was nothing like pot.  My heart was racing so badly I thought I would have to go to the hospital.  Two days later I still feel it in my system.  Would NEVER try this again!

  7. samantha samantha United States says:

    I smoked this saturday ... almost instantly i went into a seizure woke up screaming and went back into another seizure and stopped breathing. Don't smoke this shit, it's not good for you or anyone around you.

  8. Skylair Skylair United States says:

    I'm 17 and my name is skylair. I had the worst experience of my life. I think others should know my story. Yesterday I smoked some fake and I was in hell litterly I thought I was Dying I will never touch it again. I don't remember blacking out... I was standing in a kitchen with my boyfriend. I started to be in a whole different world.. I didn't remember anything not anyone nothing. I could hear voices but couldn't see anyone and couldn't recognize any of them. I felt like I had a sezsure. I  felt so alone so confused didn't know I was even human. I thought I was just a voice in a black space that was there forever and never ending I thought I was about to die when I stared to snap back in it I asked my boyfriend what happen he was scared I wasn't going to come out of it he said my eyes were open and it was like myfeet were stuck to the ground and then I shut my eyes. I wasn't responding to anyone at all it seemed like forever but it had only been a few minutes.. I had to go out side bc I thought I had a sezsure and I was hurt I then threw up out side a lot. It got me almost sober. Sober enough I knew I was human. I then walked over to a car to look in a meror to see if I was okay. I was but I didn't feel like I was though. This took place at lke ten in the morning I felt horrible the whole day. I still don't knowwhat happen but I know I will neverever do it again It is not worth risking my life over.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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