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K2 - Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids refers to the many herbal mixtures inaccurately marketed as “safe” and legal, that produce marijuana-like effects. It is often labeled “not for human consumption” and sold as “incense,” but look more like potpourri. It may contain dried, shredded plant material and chemicals that create the mind-altering effects. People buy it in head shops, corner stores, and on the Internet. It is illegal in New York State to possess, sell, offer to sell, or manufacture synthetic cannabinoids.

Synthetic cannabinoids are referred to by different names including: K2, Spice, synthetic marijuana, or “legal” marijuana. Common brand names include: Geeked up, Smacked, Scooby Snax, Green Giant, Red Giant, Mr. Bad Guy, iBlown, and Trippy.

How Is K2 Used?
Like marijuana, this drug is mainly smoked. Sometimes it is mixed with marijuana or added to hot water
for drinking.

What Are the Risks Associated with K2 Use?
Synthetic marijuana produces effects like marijuana, making people feel relaxed and the world seem different. Sometimes the effects are even stronger than from marijuana. Some users have extreme anxiety, confusion, paranoia, and hallucinations. Other reported effects include rapid heart rate, vomiting, seizures and fainting. Synthetic marijuana can also cause kidney failure, raise blood pressure and reduced blood supply to the heart. In a few cases, it has been associated with heart attacks. Regular users may also experience withdrawal and craving.

Because we do not know what is in many products sold as synthetic marijuana, some kinds also may cause very different effects than the user expects.
Additional Resources

Poison Control
The NYC Poison Control Center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for treatment advice about exposures to poisons. Pharmacists and nurses certified in poison information are there to give advice. All calls are free and confidential. Call any time at 1-800-222-1222 or 212-POISONS (212-764-7667).

► See Related NYC Health Department Publications