Spice K2 and Bath Salts

Dr. James Lee's Blog - Spice K2 and Bath SaltsThere has been recent local and national attention focused on a new group of drugs available readily and easily in our community. Known medically as Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2, Spice) and Cathinones (Bath salts), these products can be purchased in tobacco stores, head shops, gas stations and of course over the internet. These substances are becoming increasingly popular because of their easy accessibility, and a sales pitch that describes them as “natural, safe highs” and “legal”. Indeed, many communities including here in Frederick County are having town meetings, demonstrations and informational sessions to help clarify and also regulate sales and availability of these potentially harmful agents. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests these drugs are far from being natural, safe or harmless.

Synthetic Cannabinoids (SCP’s)

There are more than 140 brand names for these drugs, with K2 and Spice being the most popular. These substances are a mixture of herbal and plant materials that serve and act as marijuana look-alikes. They are sold as herbal incense or potpourri, often sold in packets that resemble teas or incense. They are most typically smoked. There activity is like marijuana but unlike marijuana the side effects can be much more variable. Autonomic (systemic) side effects such as rapid heart rate, nausea and headache are more common and negative brain (mood) effects such as hallucinations, panic attacks and overall anxiety are similarly more reported.

Synthetic Cathinones

These are Amphetamine-like compounds that are found naturally or made commercially. They have recently become more popular and are marketed as “bath salts” or “plant food”. However these products are not used for bathing or personal hygiene in any way. The bath salts are made into the form of a fine white powder and then usually inhaled, ingested or injected. Its effect is similar to Ecstasy. These drugs are pure stimulants and stimulant side effects, especially if dose or intake is not regulated, can be rapid, dangerous and even fatal with MI’s, strokes or seizures.

Drug dependency and all the well known and described problems associated with both acute and chronic drug abuse are in play here. In fact, the problem may be worse since the sale’s of these agents is currently legal and available in our community. The composition and therefore the side effect profile of these drugs can be much more variable, unpredictable and serious. Please stay informed and educated regarding sales and availability of these drugs in our community. Remember these are ultimately “designer” drugs of abuse made and marketed for easy access and use. That makes them more, not less, harmful and dangerous.

– Dr. James Lee, Pediatrician

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