I’m so old that the first time I heard about the fake-weed craze was when I read about it this Sunday in The New York Times.
For the other AARP-members reading this, a little something called K2 or Spice or Genie has hit America and is directly implicated in at least one death. That’s one more than marijuana has ever caused.
Unlike real-pot, fake-pot is legal in all but eight states and can be sold openly in gas stations, head shops etc. You don’t even have to be 18 to buy it because it’s not meant for human consumption but sold as “incense.”
What is it? A mixture of spices apparently, with “synthetic cannabinoids” thrown in, though not any actual THC because that would be against the law.
The article quotes an ER doc who is also the head of the Michigan Poison Control center and has seen some very unmarijuana-like symptoms from users including hallucinations and extreme agitation. The death of an Iowa teenager who killed himself shortly after smoking K2 is being investigated.
So let’s get this straight, marijuana which doesn’t kill people and doesn’t contain carcinogens is illegal in fifty states, but this stuff is legal in forty-two?
Marijuana, (for my visitors from Pluto who may not know) is a plant. It is often grown in the United States by hard working farmers who don’t receive government subsidies. K2 is made of who-knows-what with chemicals imported from China — a country which we wouldn’t trust to make pet food.
College students with convictions for marijuana sales or possession are denied federal student loans, but there’s no problem with their selling this synthetic concoction in the convenience stores where they work or buying it at one. No possibility of an arrest record that will need explaining to a future employer unless they get into a fight about their right to light up in the non-smoking section of a bar or restaurant or do something else stupid while under the influence.
Clearly, if it’s on the radar of America’s last-non-tabloid paper, then it must be a real issue. And the solution will be what? Banning the synthetic version which will probably result in a major price reduction making it more competitive with real weed? That’s just great. Another illegal drug to keep our criminal justice system well fed.
Personally, I don’t even like pot. The last thing I need is a drug that’s going to make me crave carbs and increase my naturally occurring levels of paranoia. But ever since that night I woke up in the ER after a tequila overdose at fifteen, I’ve never understood why pot is illegal when so many other things aren’t. As an adult and a taxpayer, I’m even more appalled at the money wasted locking people up for growing plants including millions in federal dollars spent jailing people for growing medical marijuana legal in their states.. Where was the damn tea-party when Raich v Gonzalez was going down?
Aside from its being less harmful than alcohol or tobacco, there’s plenty of evidence that for many terminally and chronically ill people marijuana is an effective way to alleviate pain, increase appetite and even help with depression.
Let’s stop being hypocrites. No one is advocating that young people smoke pot, but prohibition just leads to worse consequences like the development of synthetic, deadly alternatives. There are all sorts of ways responsible adults can teach young people to lead healthy lives — like maybe by example, or force them to read Obama’s autobiography. There he was a mediocre student who somehow made it to college. Then he stopped smoking weed and boom — transferred to the ivy-league and the rest is history.
Even if the worst things people say about real-pot are true — that it could lead you to be an unmotivated slacker living in your mom’s basement at forty, I’d bake some pot brownies for my nieces and nephews today if I believed the alternative was their smoking chemically-enhanced potpourri.