|Vegetable matter is sprayed with synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018 and marketed under the brandname “K2”|
Federal agents are cracking down in imports of a “synthetic marijuana” as the substance, legal in 49 states (everywhere except soon-to-be-illegal Kansas), gains popularity nationwide.
Officials claim Food and Drug Administration regulations bar the important and sale of JWH-018, a synthetic cannabinoid, “because it is not a tested and approved drug,” reports Peter Mucha at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Eighty-five parcels have already been seized at Philadelphia International Airport after tests proved positive for JWH-018, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Officials said the parcels were arriving from Amsterdam at a UPS facility at the airport.
The latest confiscations were on Tuesday, after a CPB lab in Georgia confirmed that two parcels discovered on Jan. 6 contained the synthetic cannabinoid.
|Photo: Kansas City Pitch|
Seized were small, plastic bags of dried leaves labeled with the brand name K2. The substance is marketed as incense, but is often smoked by users.
The CBP in Philadelphia said it’s already seized about four pounds of the substance, similar to potpourri.
“It’s just random plant material, but they coat it with a chemical and then they dry it out, said Homeland Security spokesperson Steve Sapp.
“Potheads tend to inhale this in a bong,” Sapp added helpfully.
Spice, Gemini and Yucatan Fire are other brands of the synthetic cannabinoid being marketed, Sapp said.
“JWH-018 is a relatively new discovery for us,” said Allan Martocci, CPB director of port oversight in Philadelphia. “If it indeed reacts similar to marijuana, then it poses some real concern for law enforcement, and it’s good that CBP removed these products from our nation’s marketplace.”
Although JWH-018 is not federally classified as a narcotic, and thus isn’t yet against federal law to possess, it is listed as a “Drug and Chemical of Concern,” illegal for sale without FDA approval, according to Customs and Border Protection.
That violation, officials claimed, was the basis for confiscating the shipments.
With a “market value” of up to $50 for three grams, the Philadelphia seizures of about two kilos puts the “street value” of the haul at “as much as $30,000,” the agency claimed.
The parcels in question weighed from four to 92 grams.
Weirdness In Kansas
The Kansas Legislature, with little debate (just “a weird mix of Internet innuendo and third-hand anecdotes”), just passed a bill to outlaw the “synthetic marijuana.” Missouri appears to be ready to follow suit.
Federal agents, not even waiting for Gov. Mark Parkinson to sign the bill making K2 against state law, on February 4 conducted raids on two Kansas head shops, busting in with guns drawn, shouting “We’re here for the K2!” reports Peter Rugg of The Kansas City Pitch.
As is already well known, the natural cannabinoids found in marijuana, including THC, are very useful therapeutically — hence the legality of medical marijuana in 14 states.
So it’s a real shame that the synthetic cannabinoid, JWH-018, is being outlawed and demonized before there’s even been a chance to check out its possible (even likely) therapeutic properties.
“If Kansas becomes the first state in the country to ban synthetic cannabinoids, and does it solely on the testimony of fewer than a dozen cops on one gray afternoon in Topeka, it won’t only lose out on revenue from head-shop taxes,” Rugg writes.
“It could strangle research that might lead to treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.”
Synthetic cannabinoids related to JWH-018 have already shown promise as anti-nausea agents in research at the University of Kentucky, Rugg reports. Multiple sclerosis patients have also anecdotally reported some symptom relief.
So what does the government do, when confronted with an agent that could possibly provide completely legal relief to thousands of medical marijuana patients?
It freaks out and starts busily going about making the stuff illegal, of course.
Before you rush out looking for K2 or other “herbal incense blends” containing synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018, you should be aware of a few things.
K2 and other brands of JWH-018 are not to be confused with the “fake buds” advertised on pot sites. Those buds are made to “look like” marijuana, and sometimes contain salvia and other psychoactives, but K2 and other brands of synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018 are made to “feel like” marijuana when you smoke ’em.
Unfortunately, herbal blends containing JWH-018 are more expensive than real pot (up to $25 a gram), only last about 30 minutes, don’t give you the munchies, and if mixed with alcohol will give you one king-hell headache.
To get the skinny, you really should read an excellent article by Niki D’Andrea in the Phoenix New Times, “Synthetic Marijuana: Six Things You Should Know About Smoking JWH-018.”