Other Drug Trends

Current Issues: Other Drug Trends

K-2/Spice and Bath Salts:  What are they really?

There are two relatively new and rapidly evolving types of synthetic drugs—cannabinoids and cathinones– being abused in Iowa resulting in more teenagers requiring hospital emergency room treatment. During recent Jones County Safe and Healthy Youth (JCSHY) Coalition meetings, there has been some discussion about what to look out for with these newer products.  The information below is taken from newly released Fact Sheets from the Iowa Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy.

Synthetic cannabinoids (a.k.a. K2, Spice, Herbal Incense, etc.) and synthetic cathinones (a.k.a. Bath Salts, Ivory Wave, Cloud Nine, Vanilla Sky, etc.) come in an increasing number of variations and are not FDA-approved for human consumption. K2/Spice type products are made by spraying chemicals on plants so they look like marijuana or oregano.  They are marketed as “incense” or “potpourri,” and as a “legal” alternative to marijuana.  K2/Spice products are sold primarily in smoke and specialty shops, in some convenience stores, and over the Internet.  They are typically sold from behind the clerk’s counter in small, brightly colored, re-sealable packages and often with exotic names for as little as $15 to $35 per package.

K2/Spice type products are usually smoked and are even more potent than marijuana.  Their effects can last 3-5 hours.  The physical effects include vomiting, rapid heart rates, elevated blood pressure, seizures, and non-responsiveness. It may be addictive as well.  Psychological effects include agitation, anxiety, hallucinations (can be very intense), panic attacks, paranoia, psychotic episodes, and suicidal tendencies.  The state law—Iowa Code 124.204(4)—explicitly bans six synthetic cannabinoids as Schedule I Controlled Substances.  The same law also explictly bans the two synthetic cathinones (bath salts) as Schedule I Controlled Substances. Iowa legislation is currently being proposed to ban many more of both types of synthetic drugs. The DEA has temporarily placed five synthetic cannabinoids and three synthetic cathinones into Schedule I of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.  Congress is now also working to permanently pan many more of both types of synthetic substances.  Both K2/Spice and these “bath salt” products are often labeled “not for human consumption” and “does not contain (banned compounds.)”  Distributors may provide lab reports claiming products contain no outlawed compounds.  Iowa crime lab tests indicate contents don’t always match label, and two identical packages can have different contents (sometimes legal and sometimes not).

Bath Salt compounds are central nervous stimulants with effects similar to cocaine, meth or MDMA. They are described as a white, tan or brown odorless, powdery substance. Although marketed as “bath crystals,” plant food and herbal “incense,” they are actually none of these things.  Like K2/Spice type products they are also sold primarily in smoke and specialty shops, in some convenience stores and truck stops, head shops, and over the Internet and are typically sold from behind the clerk’s counter in brightly colored and exotically-named 50-500 milligram packets or small round canisters for $25-$50 per package.

Synthetic cathinones “bath salts” can be snorted, injected or eaten.  Their physical effects include: racing heartbeat, extreme elevations of blood pressure, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, strange eye movements and white powder on nostrils or lips. Their psychological effects include: extreme agitation or anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, change in personality, depression, aggression or disturbed behavior, delusions, hostility, violence and suicidal thoughts. They may cause intense cravings and lead to binges lasting several days.

The JCSHY Coalition strives to keep the community informed of the emerging unhealthy drug trends affecting our young people. For more information about the Coalition, please call 319-462-5030 or visit www.jonescountycoalition.org .