K2 — Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids are a class of drugs commonly referred to as K2. K2 affects the same area of the brain as cannabis (weed), but it contains chemicals made in laboratories and sprayed onto dry leaves. These chemicals are not derived from the cannabis plant.

K2 is packaged under numerous brand names, including: Spice, Green Giant, Bizarro, Geeked Up, Smacked, and AK-47.

In New York State, it is illegal to possess, sell, offer to sell, or manufacture synthetic cannabinoids.

If you see someone who took K2 become unconscious, unresponsive or experience a seizure, call 911.

Health Risks

Death is a rare but serious risk associated with the use of K2.

Since the chemicals found in K2 vary from packet to packet, and potency can differ even within one packet, the effects of K2 are unpredictable. People who use K2 may feel fine after one use, but become extremely sick after the next time. Regular users may also experience withdrawal and craving.

Some of the adverse health effects of using K2 include:

  • Extreme anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Fainting
  • Kidney failure
  • Reduced blood supply to the heart

Information for Retailers

Selling K2 is a misdemeanor, punishable by:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Fines of more than $100,000
  • Prosecution under federal law
  • Closure and eviction as a "public nuisance"
  • Suspension or revocation of your cigarette retail dealer license

For more information on the K2 law to criminalize sale and production:

Information for Providers

For past Health Advisories about K2, search our Health Alert Network page.


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