ALVIN, Texas -- After two recent trips to the emergency room in Alvin by teenagers who later admitted their symptoms of nausea and rapid heart rate were caused by smoking a form of “fake marijuana,” the police chief in Alvin has proposed banning the sale of the herbal product.
K2, sold under names like K2 Summit, K2 Ultra, and K2 Blonde, is a product marketed as incense with a list of herbal ingredients and synthetic extracts including canavalia rosea and clematis vitalba. But those ingredients have been sprayed or soaked with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
K2’s mix of compounds has been banned in most of Europe, but is not regulated by federal law in the United States.
Eleven states, (Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Tennessee) have moved to ban the sale, distribution, and possession of K2 and its compounds.
Twelve other states, including Texas, are either considering legislation, or have individual municipalities which have installed bans of their own. The Alvin police chief introduced a proposed ban on K2 at last week’s city council meeting. Santa Fe in Galveston County put a similar ban in place last month.
“We found out that we actually had two parents that had already called the legal department asking what we were going to do about protecting their children,” said Alvin Police Chief Mike Merkel.
“A 10-year-old could walk in the store and buy one of these legally. And that's sad that someone who just knew how to ride a bicycle could use this and possibly end his young life," he said.
K2 is regularly, and legally, sold in smoke shops in Houston. A 3 gram package can range from $10 to $30 and is marked as “not for consumption” and “for aromatherapy use only.”
But despite the trend to ban the sale of the herbal product across the country, it is sold legally, in individual transactions and wholesale, on the Internet.
State Sen. Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) has promised to introduce legislation in Austin next session to ban K2 in Texas.