Several hundred concerned parents, students and school officials met Monday evening during an impassioned town hall meeting at to learn more about the drug K2—also called spice.
The mother of a Utica High School teen who has been smoking K2 for a little more than a year now told Patch the legal substance has changed her daughter’s life.
The mother, who asked to remain unnamed, said her daughter is failing school, has no regard for life and has experienced severe mood swings.
“I want her to be a teen and laugh and giggle again and not worry about where her next high will be,” she said.
During the town hall meeting, the concerned mother and others asked town hall moderators 51st District Court Judge Jodi Debbrecht, Milford Counseling Director Elizabeth Reader and Judge Kimberly Wiegand questions ranging from the legality to the history and physical effects of the drug.
Spice is a form of synthetic marijuana that is commonly sold as incense, or potpourri. It was originally sold under the name K2, but legislation banned K2 in Michigan in October of 2010. Since the ban, manufacturers are finding ways around the legislation by manufacturing variations of the banned substance, eliminating the chemicals that caused the original K2 to be banned.
The substance can be purchased for as little as $5 to $50 at local gas stations, smoke shops and party stores. There are more than 1,300 variations of spice, and at least 12 packages that were found in local stores were on display for parents and community members to look at.
The presentation was sponsored by the Utica Community Area Action Team, which is a coalition aimed at preventing substance abuse.
Wiegand, the president of the organization, said the town hall was in response to local parents “thirst” for knowledge about K2 and how to detect signs that they’re kids may be abusing the legal drug.
“Almost everyday in my courtroom, I am looking at a young adult, and I see they’re acting strange. And the parents say they don’t know why their kids are acting this way,” said Debbrecht, who said that many times the kids are on K2, and parents don’t know because they don’t understand the drug.
While legislation moves through the Michigan House and Senate amending the banned K2 substance list, Debbrecht said concerned residents should take their complaints to those selling K2. “The best way is to go into a store and tell them I am not buying this in here anymore,” said Debbrecht.
Colleen Rinnert, the mother of a 21-year-old woman who is now under 24-7 care in part because of the lasting effects from K2 and spice, said she has started to speak at schools about the extreme dangers of the synthetic drug.
“I want this illegalized. I don’t want anybody else to go through what I have gone through,” said Rinnert. “My daughter now has mental retardation and is functioning at a level of a 3 to 5 year old. She has potassium magnesium deficiency, and the liver of a 45 year old.”
Reader said the scariest part about K2 is that it can severely damage the nervous system and induce psychosis. The effects of the high can be permanent.
Here are some quick facts about K2 that were discussed during the meeting:
- Spice or K2 is a mixture of herbs and spices that is sprayed with a synthetic compound similar to THC, the physcoactive ingredient in marijuana.
- Common street names include, K3, Black Mamba, Fake Weed, Genie, Bliss, Bombay Blue.
- Spice is typically smoked in a joint or pipe or can be boiled as tea.
- When burned, spice or K2 has a "funky" and distinct smell, which can be detected on the smoker.
- There is no legal age limit to buy K2.
- Psychological effects include paranoia and panic attacks.
- Many forms of K2 or spice are untraceable in urine tests.
“Please, please, please spread the word about this. This is not something to be ignored. We have to take a stand,” Reader said.
Debbrect said the problem won't be solved by ignoring the facts.
Parents are encouraged to contact their local legislatures and ask them to put pressure on lawmakers to get K2/spice banned in Michigan.
If you have a loved one who is addicted to K2 or spice and need help, contact Macomb County Community Mental Health at 586-469-5275 or the crisis center at 586-307-9100. A 24-7 Crisis chat hotline for teens is available at 1-800-231-1127.
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