Kids getting high on 'spice'
Several Leesburg teens have used a common incense product to get high in recent weeks, according to the Leesburg police department.
The product, which is legal, is known as K2 and commonly referred to as "spice." It is a combination of herbs and spices produced in China and Korea, police said. The herbs are sprayed with a synthetic compound similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Several local teens smoked the herbs to get high, according to Leesburg police officer Wesley Thompson. One of the cases led to an overdose requiring hospitalization, he said.
"This started with the under 18 crowd, but I'm sure that the over 18s are looking at it too now, since it's legal," Thompson said.
The product is sold at smaller convenience stores around town, Thompson said. Use of the product is reported to cause sleepiness, relaxation, and reduced blood pressure, according to police. At higher doses, K2 can cause hallucinations and delusions.
The symptoms are similar to those associated with marijuana use: "Dilated pupils, exaggerated movements, lack of coordination," Thompson said.
K2 has been seen in other parts of the region, police said, but the recent cases were the first reported in Leesburg. During the first nine months of 2010, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported over 1,500 overdoses nationally resulting from use of K2, according to police.
While there are no current regulations regarding the sale or use of the product in Virginia. Leesburg Police Chief Joseph Price said he plans to encourage legislation that would make the substance illegal. Police say have also asked merchants in Leesburg to voluntarily stop selling the product and are encouraging parents to prevent their children from purchasing K2.
More information about K2 can be found at the American Association of Poison Control Centers Web site.
-- Caitlin Gibson
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