NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Synthetic marijuana, also known as “K2” and “Spice,” is a synthetic drug gaining popularity among the homeless in NYC because of its low-cost and availability.
Bodegas illegally sell synthetic marijuana for $5 a packet, according to police.READ MORE: Brian Laundrie's Remains Found In Florida Nature Reserve, Officials Say
The NYPD admits use of the drug is a crisis, and while many users enter a catatonic state, a few can turn violent.
“It’s laced with chemicals and as fast as we are able to identify the chemicals and get that particular chemical — make it against the law — they change the makeup of it,” Bratton said.
In a disturbing video obtained by CBS2, a naked homeless man, said to be under the influence of synthetic marijuana, is seen blocking a Brooklyn school safety vehicle. The man is howling and irrational.
While it’s not a new drug, it is being described by many as the new heroin or crack.READ MORE: Man Taken Into Custody After Shooting Just Steps Away From Bronx School
Here are 5 facts you may not know about K2:
Fact 1: Synthetic marijuana refers to the many herbal mixtures inaccurately marketed as safe and legal, that produce marijuana-like effects. It’s often labeled “not for human consumption” and is sold as incense, but looks more like potpourri, according to the New York City Dept. of Health.
Fact 2: Many people use K2 because they wrongly believe it is natural and safe. It is also popular because it is not detected in most standard drug screens.
Fact 3: The drug is mainly smoked, like marijuana, but can be added to hot water for drinking.
Fact 4: Synthetic marijuana is illegal to sell in NYC but is legal to smoke.MORE NEWS: Paterson Youth Football Team Gets $10,000 Gift From New York Giants, Dunkin' Donuts
Fact 5: In NYC, men account for 90% of K2-related emergency department visits, says the DOH. Side effects include paranoia, lethargy and loss of consciousness. In rare instances, use of synthetic marijuana has been linked to death.