Spicer, K2 and Spice are all names for the synthetic cannabis that is an evolving issue on the CU campus as well as campuses nationwide.
The synthetic cannabis has been called “fake pot” and users find the effects similar to that of marijuana. The substance has been illegal to sell since July 1 in the state of Colorado and will be completely illegal this January.
Cmdr. Robert Axmacher of CUPD said the police department has seen a decrease in synthetic cannabis incidents on campus compared to the 2010-11 school year. CUPD has received calls that reported someone smoking marijuana, but then the substance was found to be synthetic cannabis.
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued an emergency ban in March to control the five chemicals JWH-08, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47, 497, and cannabicyclohexanol. Similar to THC, the active substance found in the marijuana plant, these chemicals are made to produce fake marijuana. While the substance is illegal at a federal level, the Colorado state government won’t be illegalizing the substance until January.
“It’s common for people when a substance is regulated to look for other substances that have the same effect,” Axmacher said. “Possession of a small amount of marijuana is a petty offense. Beginning in January, possession of K2 and Spice is a misdemeanor, which is more serious.”
Axmacher said that possession of synthetic cannabis will be considered a class two misdemeanor. Class two misdemeanors are punishable by up to 12 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
Students living in residence halls are prohibited from having synthetic cannabis on campus. CU’s Student Code of Conduct upholds federal laws, and students found with synthetic cannabis will face campus judicial affairs.
“On campus, provision nine of the Student Code of Conduct states that students may not violate any municipal, state or federal law,” Axmacher said. “Having the synthetic cannabis on campus is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct because it’s a violation of the federal law, which has been in effect since March this year.”
Miriah Lewis, a 20-year-old junior philosophy major, said she has heard the drug called “Spice” or “Fake” because people consider the substance to be fake marijuana.
“I knew a couple of people in my hall last year who tried it,” Lewis said. “They didn’t like it because it made them sleepy immediately. I would never try it, who knows what it’s made of? It’s not natural.”
The DEA news release from March that restricted the use of the chemicals used to create synthetic cannabis reported that emergency room physicians have seen many troubling side effects. These include convulsions, anxiety attacks, dangerously elevated heart rates, increased blood pressure, vomiting and disorientation.
CU has seen a handful of synthetic cannabis cases this school year. Illegalizing the manufacturing and sale of synthetic cannabis has cut down on the substance’s use, by making it more difficult to obtain. Axmacher urges users to dispose of their synthetic cannabis before the law completely illegalizing the substance goes into effect in 2012.
Paul Dziemianowicz, a 19-year-old sophomore psychology major, said he had heard of the synthetic cannabis in his hometown of Philadelphia, although he has never heard nor seen the substance mentioned in Colorado.
“I think it’s just people trying to find another way around the law,” Dziemianowicz said. “People that used it will probably just go back to doing the real thing once the synthetic is illegal.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Mahala Proch at Mahala.email@example.com