Flagler College is ahead of the curve; bans “synthetic marijuana”

By Amber Jurgensen | gargoyle@flagler.edu

A new policy regarding nonprescription and illegal drugs at Flagler College bans the use or possession of synthetic marijuana, which could end in expulsion or suspension, according to an e-mail sent out to students in October.

Synthetic marijuana is found in K2 incense among other substances and is known as “genie,” “spice” and “zohai.” K2’s packaging says it’s not for human consumption, but when smoked it has similar effects to a marijuana high.   

According to WebMD, in 2004 this type of product began appearing for sale on the internet and in head shops in Europe but U.S. sales did not take off until 2009.

Stogie’s Smoke Shop in downtown St. Augustine sells the K2 incense. It costs $39.99 for three grams. But for the K2 that is sprayed twice with the synthetic component it costs $45.99.

“We actually had a case of it earlier in the semester and the individual was able to produce receipts for the purchase, so that made us kind of wonder is this a prevalent thing that is starting to work its way throughout the country,” Daniel Stewart, dean of student services, said.

“Come to find out 14 states have already outlawed it,” Stewart said.

Among these states are the neighboring states of Alabama and Georgia.

Although legal in Florida, think again before buying or trying.

More than 100 different synthetic cannabinoids have been created for experimental purposes but the drugs have never been tested in humans, WebMD said. The drug binds more tightly to cannabinoid receptors than THC which only partially binds to them. It is thought to stay in the body for long periods of time and has a similar chemical structure to cancer causing agents.

It also causes rapid heart rate, high blood pressure and a lowered body temperature, according to WebMD.

“My brother had a friend who goes to UCF, who was smoking [K2] and he started hallucinating and his heart started going into like crazy arrhythmias and I guess they took him to the hospital and for eight hours he didn’t even know who his parents were,” Shane Butler, a senior at Flagler College, said.

Butler who was in the coast guard has seen it on ships. “It’s legal to import it into the United States, but you know, it’s starting to be considered a contraband,” Butler said.

“Florida, is obviously not in legislative session at this point, but I guess we’re anticipating it rising at this next legislative session and so to kind of get out ahead of the curve and the fact that we’ve already dealt with one case of it we went ahead and modified our policy and added [the ban] to our current policy,” Stewart said.

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