WSVN -- It looks like pot. It's treated like pot, and it gives the same high as pot, but unlike pot it's legal to smoke it. Users call it K-2, it's also sold under names like Serenity Now, California Dreams, Magic or Armageddon.
Man: "It's probably in just about any smoke shop, tobacco shop, head shop."
It's labeled as an herbal incense not for human consumption, but some people who are buying it are using it to get high.
Man: "Same effect as marijuana."
This man didn't want to show his face on TV. He smokes K-2 and thinks it's as good as marijuana.
"The one toke or hit off of a pipe would probably almost be equivalent to smoking a whole joint with somebody."
The herbal blend in the K-2 products are a combination of regular tobacco and other plants that are then sprayed with a chemical that mimics THC, the active chemical in marijuana.
Now, if you smoke K-2 appear to be high and a police officer tests you it wont show up in a drug test because there is no current way to spot the chemicals used in this product. That's why many people call it the "legal pot" and it's easy to get. You can buy it online or in a smoke shop unless someone beats you to it.
Man: "They say it's the hottest seller on their shelves in their stores right now."
7 News took a hidden camera into this South Florida smoke shop. Among the bongs and other drug paraphernalia, we found K-2 the only stipulation like cigarettes you have to be 18 to buy it.
A salesperson told us to try the california dreams because it's quote: "Strong but mellow" or armageddon because it would quote: "knock our socks off" the price? about $35 for a tea bag sized package.
It may sound cheap, but this "legal" high can come at a high cost.
Jim Hall: "This is a very dangerous drug to use."
Jim Hall is on The United Way's Commission on Substance Abuse. He says the products are made in unregulated labs in Asia and no one knows what those labs are putting into K2.
Anthony Scalzo: "It's not what you're expecting from your mom and pops marijuana from the 1970's. It's not mellowing people out. It's making them agitated."
Emergency rooms across the country are seeing an increase in K-2 related incidents.
Lt. James McGee: "He had some swelling of the brain according to medical personnel."
In Atlanta, several teens got very sick, and in St. Louis 30 people have been hospitalized after smoking K-2.
Lt. James McGee: "K-2 Pineapple express on it's way."
Overnment agencies in Kansas and Missouri have voted to outlaw K-2.
Representative Jeff Roorda: "There is no way to test to see if you are impaired by this drug because it's not an illegal substance yet."
But here in Florida, K-2 is pretty new. We couldn't find any reports of injuries and just a few calls to poison control centers.
The DEA in Miami told us that K-2 is a drug of concern and their investigation is "in the preliminary stages."
DA: "People who are using it are playing Russian roulette with the drug laws and with their brains."
But if other states are any indication odds are we will soon see a lot of K2 going up in smoke in Florida.
7 News has learned that drug testing companies are currently in the process of developing a test for the chemicals in K-2 and other herbal substances.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
United Way of Broward CountyBroward County Commission on Substance AbuseTel: (954) 760-7007www.drugfreebroward.org