K2 and Spice are just two of the many trade names or brands for synthetic designer drugs that are intended to mimic THC, the main psychoactive ingredient of marijuana. These designer synthetic drugs are from the synthetic cannabinoid class of drugs that are often marketed and sold under the guise of “herbal incense” or “potpourri.”
Synthetic cannabinoids are not organic, but are chemical compounds created in a laboratory. Since 2009, law enforcement has encountered hundreds of different synthetic cannabinoids that are being sold as “legal” alternatives to marijuana. These products are being abused for their psychoactive properties and are packaged without information as to their health and safety risks.
Synthetic cannabinoids are sold as “herbal incense” and “potpourri” under names like K2 and Spice, as well as many other names, at small convenience stores, head shops, gas stations, and via the Internet from both domestic and international sources. These products are labeled “not for human consumption” in an attempt to shield the manufacturers, distributors, and retail sellers from criminal prosecution. This type of marketing is nothing more than a means to make dangerous,
psychoactive substances widely available to the public.
These substances have no accepted medical use in the United States and have been reported to produce adverse health effects. Currently, 43 substances are specifically listed as Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act either through legislation or regulatory action. In addition there are many other synthetic cannabinoids that meet the definition for “cannabimimetic agent” under the Controlled Substances Act and thus are Schedule I substances.
There are many synthetic cannabinoid substances that are being sold as “incense,” “potpourri,” and other products that are not controlled substances. However, synthetic cannabinoids may be subject to prosecution under the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act which allows non-controlled drugs to be treated as Schedule I controlled substances if certain criteria can be met. The DEA has successfully investigated and prosecuted individuals trafficking and selling these dangerous substances using the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act.