SIMONE VIRZI — News Writer
Alcohol and marijuana consumption at a university is not unheard of, but alternative synthetic drugs including K2 incense and bath salts are currently on the rise, but are currently legal in Connecticut.
An employee at Exxon in New Haven said the store, located on Whalley Ave., sells a lot of K2. A plastic package or jar, which does not include a warning label or the ingredients in the package, costs $10.62 – that’s including tax.
According to livescience.com, K2 can have the same effect marijuana’s active ingredient— tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC— has on a user’s brain.
“Both compounds bind to the CB1 receptors, which primarily affect the central nervous system,” according to livescience.com.
The site also said there can be several side effects of using K2, including “sleepiness, relaxation, reduced blood pressure, and at high doses, hallucinations and delusions.”
Kacy Lansing, the university assistant of the Drug and Alcohol Resource Center, said she has heard K2 can be an issue with athletes because they cannot be checked for its usage. It is also easily accessible, since there is not an age minimum to purchase the drug.
“[Synthetic drugs are] not regulated by the FDA because it’s not marked at consumable,” she said, adding the companies “work around the system.”
According to WebMD, the American Association of Poison Control Centers has reported 4,500 calls about synthetic marijuana since 2010.
K2 was developed in the 1990s by John W. Huffman, a chemist of Clemson University, according to livescience. com.
Sarah Michaud, the coordinator of DARC, said approximately a year ago, a guest speaker spoke to Southern students about synthetic drug use.
DARC will be focusing on alcohol programs next month since April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Lansing said she would like to have another event about synthetic drugs on campus. If not this spring, then “definitely in the fall.”
Michaud said she does not know how many Southern students use synthetic drugs. However, she does know “many college students and younger have used the drugs. There are many dangerous consequences to use of these drugs and there has been a push in legislation to try and make these drugs illegal.”
The usage of bath salts are also on the rise, but they aren’t the kind someone may use to create a bubble bath—these are more dangerous and can make the user high.
There can be several side effects to using bath salts, including “agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, chest pain, suicidality,” according to WebMD.
According to WebMD, “Poison centers across the U.S. have reported growing numbers of calls about the synthetic stimulant, and more and more states are banning the drug. But as of now, there is no federal law prohibiting their sale.”
Bath salts can be consumed in several ways including orally, inhaling, injecting, and snorting; snorting is the most dangerous way to consume bath salts, according to the website.
“These chemicals [methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MPDV), mephedrone and pyrovalerone] act in the brain like stimulant drugs (indeed they are sometimes touted as cocaine substitutes); thus they present a high abuse and addiction liability,” according to WebMD.
According to WebMD, bath salts can be purchased at “mini-marts and smoke shops sold as Ivory Wave, Bolivian Bath, and other names.”
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, as of February, 30 states have banned “recreational designer drugs sold as ‘bath salts.’” However, Connecticut is not one of the 30 states.
Dr. Diane Morgenthaler, the director of the Health and Wellness Center, said she has not seen synthetic drugs as an issue on campus.
“My staff hasn’t seen any students that have had problems with these drugs,” she said. “I know that they are becoming popular based on media reports, but honestly I am not very familiar with the effects.”
If a problem does arise, she would like to know enough information so she can help a student.
“I will do some research as I’d like to be informed before a problem presents itself,” Morgenthaler said.
If a student felt they have an issue with K2 or bath salts, Lansing said they can visit DARC for help, where the center will “treat it like any other addiction.”