The United States Drug Enforcement Administration announced Wednesday that they will use their emergency powers to ban "fake pot" products known more commonly as “K2” or “Spice.”
This action makes it illegal to possess or sell the five chemicals used to make these products for at least a year. The ban won't technically take effect for 30 days. It will be temporary for the next year while the DEA determines whether the chemicals should be permanently added to the federal list of controlled substances.
Right now these synthetic pot products can easily be found online and on store shelves. It's sold in different forms and with different names, “Spice,”K2,” Blaze” and “Red X Dawn.” It's an herbal incense that when smoked gives you a high similar to marijuana.
"It's a drug like marijuana, but a little more powerful. It makes you do crazy things that you wouldn't normally do," said one Colorado Springs resident.
Over the past year the synthetic marijuana products have become increasingly popular, particularly among teens.
"A lot of young students are obtaining these synthetic forms of marijuana products from older students, they are giving it to younger students," said Greg Sinn with D-60 school district in Pueblo.
According to the DEA these plant materials have been coated with chemicals that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana and as clearly marked on the packaging they are not intended for human consumption.
"Its not a good idea. Its not something tested in humans and there could be consequences," said Shireen Banerji with the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center. She calls this an emerging public health problem.
Medical professionals at the poison center have taken nearly 100 calls this year from five states, calls from young people with bad reactions after smoking spice. About two dozen of the frantic calls came from Colorado.
The chemicals in these products have not been approved by the FDA. The DEA hopes their action to control it will take away the incentive to try it.
These products are also not easy to detect. It doesn't show up in drug tests, making it more popular in the military and with parolees.
Fifteen states have already banned one or more of the five chemicals used to make this synthetic product. This summer, Missouri banned Spice. Kansas outlawed it in March along with Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia.