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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Marijuana’s legal cousin provides students on probation with alternative high

By Colt Langley/managing editor

K2 and other “incense” labeled as “not intended for human consumption” come packaged in a plethora of shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. Some people who are on probation say they use K2 instead of marijuana, but some cities have banned the substance.   Photo by Casey Holder/The Collegian
K2 and other “incense” labeled as “not intended for human consumption” come packaged in a plethora of shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. Some people who are on probation say they use K2 instead of marijuana, but some cities have banned the substance. Photo by Casey Holder/The Collegian

Some students who are on probation and face monthly drug tests say they are smoking the herbal remedy, K2, otherwise known as spice, as an alternative to smoking marijuana.

Just in the past year, K2 has gained more attention among users and critics because of its legality, easiness to obtain and marijuana-like high. Users find it has become the new “legal pot.”

NE student Scott Worley, who is on probation, said although smoking K2 is different from marijuana, he enjoys it.

“Even if I could get away with smoking pot, I’d still smoke K2,” Worley said. “Because I’ve noticed that it makes the small things you take in life for granted more beautiful, like standing outside, listening to birds sing and looking at trees.”

TR student Eric Helge, who is also on probation, said he smokes K2 but feels it’s nothing compared to marijuana.

“I’m a marijuana activist,” Helge said. “I’m in this for the legalization of marijuana. It’s not that I love K2. It’s just a great alternative, considering my legal restrictions.”

Worley said that he has smoked K2 regularly since December.

“I smoked pot for about four years until I was put on probation,” he said. “It’s [probation] what got me smoking K2. I smoke it on a daily basis, sometimes a few times a day. I like it. It’s definitely distinctly different from marijuana, not even chemically similar. Essentially what it does is mimic the effects of marijuana, to an extent.”

Helge said K2 helps him when he’s feeling stress or when he’s trying to sleep.

“Some people like to drink a glass of wine, some people like to drink a beer, and, you know, some people like to smoke good bud,” Helge said. “And I don’t like to take pharmaceuticals. I’d rather just take something natural to relieve stress. And that’s what this is, just a bunch of herbs and spices.”

K2 users get high from a chemical called JWH-018, named after John W. Huffman, an organic chemist at Clemson University in South Carolina.

Huffman is the chemist who designed the chemical compound. The chemical is a cannabinoid, which is the same as tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that causes users to get high.

Though no official study on the chemical has been done, K2 has attracted users worldwide. Because of this, some counties and states in the U.S. have sought to ban K2.

As for North Texas, the city of Mansfield became the first to ban the substance for sale and possession in June. Dallas also outlawed the substance last month along with any paraphernalia used to smoke it.

The military has already banned possession of K2, and as of now, the DEA considers it a “drug or chemical of concern.”

In early March, Kansas became the first state in the U.S. to ban the substance. Those who are caught with it are charged with drug possession.

According to St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Saint Charles County in Missouri as of March 9, outlawed “K2 and other fake-pot products.”

Illinois will also start a ban on K2 at the beginning of next year.

Sold in most smoke shops and some truck stops, K2 is labeled as an incense and “not for human consumption.”

A manager for one of several Dallas locations of Gas Pipe, a local tobacco shop, said the store only sells K2 as it is labeled.

“If someone tells us they will smoke it, then we won’t sell it to them,” said the manager who wished to remain anonymous.

Randall Watson, store manager of Dragon’s Breath in Bedford, another shop that sells K2, said his store also sells it as incense.

“It is sold and used for aromatherapy,” Watson said. “I know it’s a product that has caused a lot of controversy due to its misuse for which we don’t condone. But we sell all our products under the premise that they are going to be used for a legal purpose. K2 can be very effective in an aroma therapeutic session.”

K2 can cost between $30 to $50 for three grams worth, depending on the seller.

The product has different variations. According to Dragon’s Breath employee Jacob Langley, the types include “blond, pink, summit, melon, blue and pineapple, all varying in scent.”

Regardless if the product is illegal or not, K2 has an audience. Both Dragon’s Breath and Gas Pipe outside of Dallas sell the herbal mixture daily.

Right now, many people who are on some sort of probation and are not able to smoke marijuana for fear of testing positive for THC on a drug test find that K2 is their best alternative.

“If I weren’t on probation and didn’t have any restrictions, I’d still be smoking cannabis. I prefer smoking marijuana over K2,” Helge said.

 
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