Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The War on Drugs - A New Twist

Well, guess what? We have a nice new mood-altering substance available right here in our area for those looking to get high. Perfectly legal even for juveniles, it is sold over the counter at some tobacco shops and convenience stores (as well as on-line, of course). It is called K2 Incense. I was told about K2 by a friend.

According to the underground, K2 mimics the effects of smoking marijuana. A former pot smoker who tried it to see if, in fact, this legally obtained stuff could duplicate the high she used to get from weed said it totally "messed her up". She was still experiencing the after-effects the following day.  As I understand it, K2 looks rather like confetti. You put it in a bowl, fire it up and inhale or you can roll it into a cigarette.

At a message board I found where people who tried it gave their reviews, these statements were made:

"caused me to have manic-like symptoms."

"realistic compared to weed but effects last longer."

"had hallucinations and speedy, racing thoughts."

"bad-ass stuff".

"experienced anxiety and labored breathing."

K2's manufacturer, K2 Botanicals, calls it an "herbal blend" that includes but is not necessarily limited to: Canavalia rosea, clematis vitalba, nelumbo nucifera, pedicularis grandfolia, helma salicibila, leonura sibiricus and ledum palustre, There, do you know anymore than you did before about the safety of K2?

There are six K2 fragrances: Standard, Citron, Blonde Incense, (targeted specifically toward women), Pink, Summit and K2 Ultra  and of course, let us not forget K2 Sex, also known as "Sex on the Mountain" which contains Horny Goat Weed to guarantee sexual ecstasy.

Prices of the fragrances vary. K2 Blonde, for instance, costs $79 for 9 grams. K2 Sex sells for $59.95 for 3 grams. Geez, that makes smoking cigarettes look cheap!

K2, on its website, cleverly makes no particular claims for its product (except for the sexual ecstasy, of course!) and no particular guarantee of safety either.

I have long believed that, not only are we not winning the War on Drugs, we are not even holding our own. We devote millions of dollars, millions of law enforcement and judicial resources and millions of of years of collective incarceration into rolling back the tide but it continues to overwhelm us.

When I was a kid, lots of people I knew smoked pot. Possession was a misdemeanor then, I believe, but it was the rare cop who bothered to enforce it. Most of those former smokers emerged none the worse for wear to become your butcher, your baker, your candlestick maker although it is true that some fell off the edge into addiction, probably about the same percentage as drinkers who become alcoholics.

I expect the weed we smoked back then was puny stuff compared to what is out there today, sort of like 3/2 beer compared to 151 rum. But newer and deadlier drugs were making their appearance. For a while there, we were losing rock stars to overdoses left and right. The Swinging Sixties were followed by the Psychedelic Seventies (which implied getting high right there - we were inhaling, huffing, injecting, freebasing, swallowing).

Society responded by taking a turn toward the authoritarian. We would, by God, get tough on drugs. We appointed Drug "Czars" and created Drug Task Forces. Nancy Reagan made "Just Say No" the theme of her First Ladyhood. We raided marijuana plots and sprayed Columbia's coca farms. Arrests went up and so did the numbers of prison cells filled with drug users, abusers and dealers. Drug rehabilitation programs popped up, mostly for the more affluent of us (and mostly, with approximately the same sad rate of recidivism as incarceration).

Meanwhile, new and ever-more addicting and lethal drugs continued to rise in popularity - cocaine to LSD to PCP to Crack to Meth to Heroin (an old drug that has recently gotten a seemingly new lease on life). And when those are unattainable, we turn to abusing prescription pain pills, most notably, Oxycontin. Or we pretend that replacing "real" drugs with Methadone is an honest solution, although the only thing I can see that's different about it is that it is approved by the State so that the authorities get their cut.

I know all the guys on our local Drug Task Force and they work their butts off but for every dealer they take down, two pop up to replace them. I know how our judges agonize to come up with creative solutions, such as Drug Court. Most of our citizens have no clue just how tragic the situation is in our rural county. They'd be astounded to know how many over-doses happen here. Unfortunately, the drug producers become more creative even as the enforcers do.

So, over all, I'm pretty pessimistic about our ability to have much impact on drug use generally. (I have long believed that marijuana should be legalized, regulated and taxed).

But, this K2 is a completely different situation. It is nuts to allow mood-altering substances to be sold to our kids right over the counter in the freakin' neighborhood convenience store.

If you agree, you can do two things:

1) Contact your legislators and tell them you believe they need to get on the ball and make K2 illegal in Indiana.

2) Ask the stores you patronize if they sell it and if they do, tell them you won't be back until they remove it from their shelves.