Thursday, May 31, 2012

Unintended Consequences: K2, Spice And Other Things Not Nice

The Detroit News: Police warn of K2 danger after death of man, 18

Police are warning about the dangers of smoking herbal incense after an 18-year-old Bloomfield Township man died, apparently after using the substance over the weekend.

This K2 and similar stuff is marked "not for human consumption" for a couple very good reasons.

Think first that as such there is no assurance or requirement for quality, purity, or safety testing for human use. The stuff is made in China, where quality control is rather sketchy and the addition of toxic additives to ordinary items is far from uncommon.

Users of K2 are betting their lives on something that even the Chinese are marking "not for human consumption".

Think about it.

Then of course, there's the nod-nod/wink-wink attempt to sell stuff that allegedly acts like synthetic marijuana by claiming it's simply potpourri.

In short, its an attempt to sell stuff of unknown quality or composition touted as synthetic marijuana to idiots who want to get a cheap and quasi-legal high.

However, unlike real marijuana, K2 has a very dangerous side. K2 use by at least one teen patient led to actual holes in the brain's gray matter, visible on a brain scan, leading to permanent cognitive impairment. Not to mention that there's a real risk of death from smoking it.

You would have to be an absolute moron to want to try and smoke that stuff. Unfortunately, we have a large and ever-expanding pool of morons.

Expect an imminent call to ban K2, which in this case given its toxic nature is pretty legitimate, to be followed by some new and probably more dangerous chemical compound being released to skirt the law.

Unfortunately, in our desire to ban high-inducing substances we often get a more available alternate produced that is actually more dangerous than the initial substance in response. Where there's a will for idiots to get high there will be a way.

Think alcohol. The progressive drive for Prohibition led to rotgut and home-brews that were far more dangerous to the imbiber than the prior legal alcohol had been, not tom mention the violence associated with bootlegging and the rise of the Kennedys.

Think amphetamines. Once they were restrictively regulated, we've now seen the scourge of methamphetamine, which is both more dangerous to the user, apparently easier -- though hazardous -- to make, and the creation of an environmental nightmare by tons of meth labs leaving toxic byproducts of meth production strewn willy-nilly about the landscape.

We also have the effect on those of us who are non-users of drugs being carded before we can buy our allergy medication and prohibited from buying too much at one time in fear that we might be supplying meth-heads somewhere. Not to mention that I'm still annoyed at the end of the really effective NyQuil medication for a far less effective replacement just to stop a few idiots from using it for illegal purposes.

Now synthetic marijuana, with far more dangerous side affects including irreversible brain damage and death, is replacing marijuana. Hardly an improvement.

The consequences of banning substances seems to be the introduction of even worse substances in their place, not to mention the drain on the economy in trying to stamp out their usage. While it makes sense to ban K2 as the effects are proven to be deadly, leaving marijuana illegal simply opens the door for the next similar and unknown substance to pop up as a replacement.

It's about time we give up this War on Drugs model and move to a more permissive regulatory model on the less harmful substances to discourage the use of the more dangerous ones. It won't be perfect, but it will likely be better than the insanity of the current failed approach. Not to mention that the tax revenue from the legitimate sale of such should be a welcome addition to the government fisc.

1 comment:

an Donalbane said...

Unintended Consequences.

Sounds like a book title...