HOUSTON -- It’s known as Spice, K2 and even incense. But the head of the Palmer Drug Abuse Program can tell you about its darker side.
"People talk about the intense hallucinations, almost having seizures, the heart beating," said John Will, the director of PDAP.
John Will knows all about it because he counsels kids who have used K2.
"We went to this one shop, it’s like all over…..We didn’t even use that much. It’s like really messed up," said one 15-year-old, who did not want to be identified.
K2 is getting popular because it’s synthetic marijuana – and completely legal.
You can buy the synthetic pot in smoke shops, and it’s undetectable in drug tests.
But a lab called ExperTox in Deer Park can detect the substance.
"We’ve probably seen a five-fold increase in testing," said Loretta Anderson, President and CEO of ExperTox. "There are parents concerned about their children, there are businesses concerned about workplace safety."
Because of the growing problem with K2, cities like Port Arthur, Jasper and Allen have already banned the substance.
Texas State Senator Florence Shapiro plans to introduce legislation for a statewide ban on fake marijuana in the next legislative session.
But ExperTox toxicologist Ernest Lykissa said legislators will have to be savvy when they craft that ban.
"It’s like Jonny-come-lately," said Lykissa. "We’re going to go in and make this illegal, this particular molecule. And what will happen? They will go in and change the molecule a little bit and stay ahead of the jailer."
In the meantime, John Will has run across teens in rehab that think there’s no harm in taking a drug that’s legal.
He tells them, "No that’s a drug. A drug is a drug, is a drug."