Synthetic marijuana found in Greencastle

PAT FRIDGEN

An herb blend containing a banned chemical is a cause of concern among Franklin County law enforcement and members of a drug coalition, including in Greencastle.

The smokeable product, sold under the name K-2 or Spice, is comprised of plant materials coated with five chemicals. One of them, JWH-018, was declared illegal by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration on Nov. 24. However, the temporary ban on possession has not taken effect due to bureaucracy.

In the meantime, area personnel are urging restraint in using the incense-type product. They cite the similarity of K-2 to marijuana. While users may consider K-2 a safe alternative, its side effects can be disturbing, they cautioned.

Greencastle police officer T.J. Anderson said, “Like marijuana, K-2 is not a safe drug. It’s chemical make-up is synthetic. It is not made for human consumption; this makes it even more dangerous than marijuana.”

Franklin Fulton Drug and Alcohol Administrator Becky Greenawalt added, “This product can cause hallucinations, increased agitation, and an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. It affects the body in ways that marijuana doesn’t.”

She said the substance had been reported in the county, including the driver of a car that crashed into a house in Shippensburg. He had been smoking K-2 just prior. She stated that youth at parties involving both alcohol and K-2 have told police the K-2 experience was scary.

Police chief John Phillippy found evidence of K-2 in Greencastle for the first time last week, with a non-drug related offense. While the substance was not yet technically illegal, he found the ramifications of usage great.

“If you are driving, it delays reaction times,” he said.

He was in contact with the district attorney on whether a person could be arrested for driving under the influence, but admitted at this point, the difficulty was in assessing the presence of K-2.

The Community Coalition for the Prevention of Substance Use and Abuse urged residents who learn about K-2 use or sales to report it. They can call the Franklin/Fulton County Drug and Alcohol Program at 263-1256.

The information is being cataloged and relayed to local leaders. Coalition spokesperson Stacy McCole said, “The DEA added the chemicals in K-2 to the Schedule I restricted substance list in November because of the dangerous side-effects for those who use it. We have heard over and over, it is not a safe alternative to other drugs.”

Anyone wishing to become involved in the changing drug and alcohol scene in Franklin County may contact the Community Coalition for the Prevention of Substance Use and Abuse at 264-1470 or 263-1256.

It meets monthly with efforts to educate the community and involve youth in drug-free choices. More information on the coalition can be found at www.hcpfranklinpa.org