The New York Police Department, along with the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Attorney’s office, has found two million packets of synthetic marijuana—$10 million worth of a drug known as K2 or spice.
In New York, the drug is now commonly used and sold more or less openly in bodegas. It’s not a crime to use or to sell it in the city: right now, it’s just a health code violation. (The city council’s speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, is working to change that by making the sale of the drug punishable by up to a year in prison.)
The drug is also cheap—cheaper even than pot. As New York’s local CBS station explains:
“They’re made by spraying a variety of chemicals, mostly from China, onto leafy materials,” [U.S. Attorney Preet] Bharara told reporters…. “Then once dried, the leaves are put into small packets with colorful logos and catchy brand names such as ‘Black Giant,’ ‘Geeked Up’ and ‘Scooby Snacks.’…
One particular brand smells like vanilla flavored oregano, and looks like marijuana. When rolled up and smoked like marijuana it’s much more intoxicating and downright dangerous.
The consequences of smoking the drug are high: users often end up in hospitals, sometimes from side effects of having smoked insecticides along with the cannabinoid chemicals. New York police found the two million packets as a part of a larger investigation and push to crack down on the distribution of the drug. The people arrested were charged with crimes including “importing illegal synthetic compounds containing controlled substances,” CBS reports.
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