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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 06/06/12
ANTI-DRUG PROTESTS. Above, Patsy Richardson protests the sale of K2 spice by Bailey's Market on May 21. Protests like this have grown in number as community members and government officials alike learn about the potential dangers of K2 use. Owners at Bailey's Market say they do not sell K2, only flavored tobacco.
(Observer photo by Chris Gray)
Local officials speak
on dangers of K2 abuse
by CHRIS GRAYResidents in northern Macomb County are trying to nip a potentially dangerous problem in its synthetic bud.
Observer Staff Writer
The recent increase in statewide cases involving K2, also known as "spice," has prompted residents and officials to take a stance on keeping the drug out of the hands of local youth.
K2 is a potpourri-like substance that is sprayed with synthetic compounds and sold as an incense at convenience stores.
It's also presented as a synthetic marijuana and is cheaper than the real drug, but the effects of smoking it are considered far more dangerous.
Romeo Police Chief Greg Paduch said the chemicals in K2 cause a similar high to marijuana, but have been known to cause health problems like panic attacks, seizures and heart attacks.
"If kids are getting the idea this is safer to use than marijuana, it's a false presumption," he said.
He said his department has experienced only a couple of run-ins when making arrests in the Romeo area. The problem, he said, is that the state has banned certain chemicals from being used in the spice, but manufacturers just put a different chemical in the mix and re-package it.
"Companies just put new ingredients in it and sell it as incense," he said. "As law enforcement, sometimes our hands are tied."
Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said his department has had a couple of instances where someone reportedly consumed K2, as well as seeing it in the county's schools.
"The kids are turning to that because we're told it can't be detected if there was a drug test," he said.
Wickersham said he hopes legislators will make it an illegal substance, as it is legal for store owners to sell.
"People need to talk to their children about it and the dangers of it," he said.
Judge Denis LeDuc of the 42-1 District Court said his court has only seen a few instances, but added he has definitely heard more about it.
"My understanding is
"We're aware this trend has started, and just like other problems, we are not immune in the greater northern Macomb County area," he said.
Barb Vecore, a hall monitor at Romeo High School, was out on May 21 protesting Bailey's Market on Bailey Street for allegedly selling K2. She also attended a protest at a gas station on 21 Mile and Van Dyke roads on June 2.
"I work at the high school and I see kids everyday getting sick smoking this, rotting out their brains," she said. "The last couple of months is when we really started seeing it a lot more out here."
She said parents need to educate themselves about the substance regardless of its legal status.
"We're just here to try to make awareness to the community," Vecore said.
Zak Joshon, owner of Bailey's Market for three years, said he has never sold K2 due to the legal ramifications, and instead sells flavored tobacco.
"My stuff is displayed and approved by the state, it's nothing like K2," he said. "If it's against the law you think I'm going to take a chance selling it?"
He said anyone who wants the tobacco must be age 18 or older to purchase it.
Village of Romeo President Mike Lee said village trustees were talking about adopting an ordinance a year ago regarding K2, but were waiting for the state to adopt something first.
"We put it on the back-burner to wait and see when the state would put it through," he said. "Anything that falls under state guidelines would fall under our ordinance."
At the county level, the Board of Commissioners' Justice and Public Safety Committee is considering a resolution to support Senate Bill 1082 that bans the sale of "synthetic cannabinoids."
The committee met yesterday after Observer print deadline on June 4. If approved, the resolution moves to the full board for approval on June 7.
Meanwhile, County Executive Mark Hackel made an announcement on June 4 that the county would issue health violations to businesses, and asked the public to report the sales of K2 through a "K2 Kops" initiative he recently put in place.
If a resident reports a business is in violation, the Macomb County Health Department will verify the complaint. If the business is in violation, it can be hit with a misdemeanor and a $200 fine. Reports can be filed at www.markhackel.com.