The sale of synthetic marijuana — often known as K2 or Spice — has drawn much attention throughout the state of Michigan in recent weeks.
Many parents have expressed concern about Spice in the wake of several incidents. Most notably, Tucker Cipriano, 19, of Farmington Hills is believed to have been high on synthetic marijuana in April when he attacked his family, killing his father and severely injuring his mother and brother.
Plymouth Police Chief Al Cox says there have been isolated incidents in Plymouth where people were found with the synthetic drug, but because it did not classify as K2 — which is illegal to possess or sell in Michigan — the department hasn't been able to file charges. He said the substance often is seized during searches following other offenses, such as drunken driving or suspended licenses.
"It's not truly K2," Cox said. While the substance looks and smells like K2, after the state banned K2 in 2010, many derivatives emerged with a slightly different chemical makeup and different names, he said.
And it's the chemicals, Cox said, that pose a real danger to those who use the synthetic drugs. With no ingredient list, and little history or testing done on the product, users – often teenagers, since there are no legal limits on who it can be sold to – don’t quite know what they’re smoking when they take a hit of Spice.
"It has a chemical that’s basically sprayed into it," Cox said. He said those he has spoken to who have tried it have reported being scared by the effects, which he said are more severe than marijuana and have more in common with psychoactive drugs such as LSD.
Group reports escalation in teen use of Spice
“It’s very concerning in terms of youth using it,” said Parker, who added that the problem has escalated within the past six months. “We don’t know what the long-term effects are.”
The substance currently is sold legally with a label indicating that it's not for human consumption, Cox said, and it is instead branded as an incense or potpourri.
This could change if new legislation passes, however.
New laws could limit spread of Spice
On Wednesday, Michigan state Rep. George Darany (D-Dearborn) introduced legislation aimed to combat the sale and use of synthetic marijuana in the state of Michigan.
Rep. Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth) also has sponsored legislation to raise awareness of the substance.
"Nobody is immune to this," Heise said of the synthetic drug problem. He said the problem tends to affect wealthier districts and suburban areas.
Darany’s proposal comes after many of these communities have rallied to have the substances banned.
Cox said the substances are less visible in Plymouth after a local tobacco shop agreed to stop selling Spice as well as Salvia, another substance sold as incense but has psychadelic effects when smoked in the same manner as marijuana.
Other local officials are taking notice, too.
The West Bloomfield Township will consider banning K2 at a board meeting next week. Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte has warned the Hartland Township board about the dangers of the drug. And 52-4 District Court Judge Kirsten Nielsen Hartig spoke out against Spice in an editorial on Troy Patch.
What do you think? Should Spice be banned in Michigan?