New designer drug creates controversy

By BY PATRICK MILLER

The Parthenon

Published: Friday, September 17, 2010

Updated: Friday, September 17, 2010

Mr. Sticky

Photo by Kerissa Bennett | The Parthenon

Shown is a new designer drug that stimulates the effects of marijuana. The drug has been made illegal in ten states this year.

    A new designer drug that simulates the effects of marijuana has become locally available.

   The drug, sold under names such as K2, Serenity, Posh, Mr. Nice Guy and Mr. Sticky, has been made illegal in 10 states this year.  The active ingredient is JWH-018, which produces the same effect as THC, the active chemical in marijuana.

   The substance is usually labeled as a spice or incense but is sold by the gram, with prices ranging from twenty to fifty dollars a bag. The packaging of the substance states that it is not for human consumption and for aromatherapy use only, which allows it to circumvent federal regulations and be sold as it is marketed. 

  A Parthenon reporter visited a store selling the product and granted confidentiality to the owners in exchange for providing the contact information for their supplier. 

   Kevin Rose of Kevlaur LLC, an online business who manufactures Serenity, defended his product by saying misinformation had been created about it. "This product is safe, Rose said. "It's not toxic, does not cause cancer, and because the long term effects of the product have not been measured, we do not recommend it for human consumption."

   The deregulated market for JWH-018 is evident on the Serenity Now Herbal Incense website, nolacounterculture.com, where an entire page is devoted to identifying counterfeit Serenity. There is a warning that states, "We do not know what they are using as well as the safety and legality of the counterfeit items." 

  Counterfeit versions of Serenity and other brands of the drug are considered more dangerous because counterfeiters do not exercise the same quality control and could be using more dangerous substances, according to the website.  The counterfeit items resemble the real products with only subtle differences in the packaging, such as a different seal or smaller package.

   Kentucky outlawed  the drug when Gov. Steven Beshear signed HB 265, which outlawed any drug that imitates the effects of marijuana, into law in April.    

   Wyoming County prosecutor Rick Stanton said he became a strong proponent of illegalizing the substance after two students in Wyoming County were hospitalized after using it.  Stanton urged Wyoming County businesses to stop selling the product, which they pulled off shelves the next day.

   "There is significant evidence there are no medical uses. It is marketed as an incense, but people purchase it to smoke it," Stanton said. "The product can be three times as potent (as marijuana) and causes seizures."

   Cabell County prosecutor Chris Chiles said he has no plans to follow Stanton's lead in urging businesses to cease carrying the substance, and he would only bring suit if legislative action was taken against the sale of JWH-018.

   The drug is available at businesses within walking distance of Marshall's campus.

   Patrick Miller can be reached at miller490@marshall.edu.

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