Tech sees first fake cannabis overdose

May 12, 2011

by Kelly Belton, FEATURES EDITOR

Most students could never imagine a night gone awry with friends, but the evening of April 24 would be one Grace Moore would never forget.

“A group of us were all hanging out in my friend’s dorm and one of our other friends told us he had some of the legal weed,” she said. “None of us knew how entirely horrible it was for you, so we went outside and smoked some of it.”

The so-called fake weed was actually a substance known as K2, a compound originally created in the mid-1990s, according to a FoxNews article from last year.

John W. Huffman, a chemist at Clemson University, created K2 while studying cannaboid receptors. The recipe somehow leaked, even making its way into East Asia where it was sold as a plant growth stimulant.

According to the FoxNews article, “K2 has an affinity for the cannaboid brain receptor that’s about 10 times greater than THC,” meaning one can smoke far less K2 to get just as high.

Moore, a freshman journalism major, said the high comes swiftly with serious unfavorable effects on some.

“Literally within a minute, two of my friends we tripping out like crazy,” she said. “I thought they were having seizures, which is very likely because it is a common side effect.”

Unsure of what to do, Moore said she and five other students at the scene began caring for the two girls, who wish to remain anonymous, having adverse reactions to the drug. She said they appeared to have no bodily control and were “vomiting uncontrollably.”

Eventually Moore and the others were able to get one of the sick students inside to lie down where she came to after a while. However, the other girl seemed to be making no progress.

“She was as pale as a piece of paper, with no control of her body, and she could hardly speak,” Moore said. “It was terrifying.”

Afraid of getting in trouble, Moore said the group hesitated to call for help, but once they realized she was barely responding, someone made the call to 911. Instead of having a good time with friends on a Friday night, Moore rode in an ambulance to the hospital.

“She had an abnormally high heart rate, another common side effect of K2,” she said. “The nurse told us they get calls every single weekend about this stuff; people die using it. We had no idea.”

After receiving intravenous fluids, the drug made its way out of the victim’s body.

According to the Tech police report, the incident was officially labeled an overdose, the first in Tech history.

“From time to time, we get calls for students who are intoxicated and have to be taken to the hospital for possible alcohol poisoning,” said Tech Police Chief Randal Hermes said. “This is the first time, to my knowledge, that something like this has happened.”

Though an earlier version of K2 was outlawed in Louisiana along with other drugs marketed as bath salts in January, Moore said the substance was revamped and can still be purchased legally.

In Moore’s May 2 blog entry, she recalled the event, “Though I don’t have a TV show, a microphone, or a giant billboard, I do have a blog and this is my PSA pertaining to this deadly drug known as K2.”

She said partaking in the drug was not worth its horrendous consequences.

“There are better ways to kill your body. Or, you could do something fun for a change. Go to the movies, grab some sushi, have a pajama party,” she said. “The next time you take care of a dying friend, stop and ask yourself, ‘Was it worth it?'”

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