COLUMN: Time to rethink stance on marijuana, K2

Thursday, March 11, 2010 | 1:34 p.m. CST; updated 9:53 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 12, 2010

COLUMBIA — K2. For my older ears, that is either a mountain on the Pakistan/China boarder or an American ski and snowboard manufacturing company. Now K2 is also a “spice cannabinoid," JWH-018.

What is JWH-018? United States Department of Justice says that they are “synthetic cannabinoid agonists without the classical cannabinoid chemical structure … herbal mixture which may be smoked for its psychoactive effects.” Simply, a fabricated replacement for marijuana.

Wes Upchurch, former Libertarian candidate for Missouri Secretary of State, is an advocate for the legalization of cannabis. He takes the Libertarian approach to the use of recreational drugs: If someone is using this in their home and not hurting or endangering anyone else, please do not bother them. Upchurch believes that marijuana and JWH-018 fall into the same category as alcohol, nicotine and caffeine, a mild nonaddictive stimulant or depressant for recreational and social use. Like my Jack Daniels.

According to Upchurch, K2, which is a brand name along with Pandora Potpourri, Spice and Kind, among others, is manufactured by spraying herbs with a synthetic cannabinoid and dried before packaging. JWH-018 is one of the cannabinoids.

The JWH-018 mixture requires either alcohol or acetone. The alcohol and acetone will evaporate, but possible residues may cause problems.

Point 1: If you are going to buy this stuff, choose the active JWH-018 to be alcohol processed.

Spice is not to be smoked or drank. After reading labels on K2, Spice-Z and Pandora packaging, I found the warnings clear, “Not for human consumption.” It is used as any other potpourri or incense — put in a burner and light. Your home will smell fresh, and you will be mellow.

We do not know the potential medical use of JWH-018. The Royal Society of Chemistry says, “little is known about the effect on humans, as not even pre-clinical studies have been (completed) to determine potential toxicity …” There has been no or few human trials.

Point 2: There is very little research on the effects of JWH-018. Caution is the word.

I am not an advocate of the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, but for a different reason than our “thoughtful” government’s anti-marijuana stance.  The American Association of Family Physicians reports that, “Marijuana smoke does … have a significantly higher tar content than cigarettes, contains many carcinogens.”  Therein is my objection to the legalization of cannabis. However …

Kathy, my life partner and a Wound Care Certified LPN, and I, have had long conversations concerning the medical use of marijuana. From our discussions and speaking to those who have used the “herb” for pain relief and to stimulate hunger, I now believe that the positives outweigh the negatives for medical usage.  The pill form of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, does not work as well. If a person is dying or being treated for cancer, why not allow them to ease the pain with a few puffs of a joint?

State Sen. Kurt Schaefer will sponsor the Senate version of HB 1472, “making spice cannabinoids, commonly known as ‘Spice’ or ‘K2,’ Schedule I controlled substances.” That makes Spice more dangerous than marijuana.  This is the wrong stance.

Section 195.017(1) RSMo defines a Schedule I drug as having a “high potential for abuse,” and no known medical use. I cannot locate research that supports JWH-018 meeting this criterion. My two-fingers of Jack has a high potential for abuse and has no known medical use.  Schedule I?

With budget deficits looming and the war on drugs all but lost, maybe we should rethink our position on “soft drugs.” Regulate the sale of marijuana and JWH-018 products as we now regulate alcohol, tobacco and tax retail sales. Create hefty fines and jail terms for those found guilty of distributing these products to children or operating a vehicle under the influence. Rid the courts of nuisance hearings. Save Money. Make Money. Win-Win.

Mr. Schaefer, I strongly suggest that you find out what JWH-018 is and does before condemnation. Rethink the outdated marijuana laws as they concern medical usage. Be smart, not party correct.

Then we could use the slippery slope arguments concerning K2 to ride our K2s down K2.


David Rosman is a award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics.  You can read more of David’s commentaries at He welcomes your comments at

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Liz Mitchell March 14, 2010 | 10:39 p.m.

I applaud David Rosman's stance on not enacting knee-jerk legislation on K-2, as well as his enlightened stance on medical cannabis.

However, I would like to address the only reservation he mentioned about allowing cannabis for recreational use, the tar and carcinogen content. Recent studies have shown no significant loss of lung function for even heavy cannabis users. Cannabis may even have some protective effects against air pollution and tobacco smoke. Studies have shown no increase in rates for lung cancer nor for head and neck cancers. It may be counter-intuitive, but the research is there.

Furthermore, many reputable studies in recent years have found cannabinoids to have anti-cancer properties in and of themselves. This is not merely using cannabis to ease the side effects of cancer-fighting drugs. This is cannabis as a cancer-fighting agent itself. One line of research has found that cannabis can kill tumors while leaving healthy tissue alone.

Cannabis is safer than alcohol and tobacco and it's time to stop locking up otherwise law-abiding adults who wish to use it at the end of the day. See Law Enforcement Against Prohibition at and for more info.

As for our legislators, too many of them try to pander to us as election time approaches by exhibiting their credentials as being tough on crime. There's a lot of style to this law-and-order imagery, but the substantive fact is that the "War on Drugs" has done far more harm than pot ever could inflict on our society.

(Report Comment)
JASON MADURA March 18, 2010 | 8:10 a.m.

well said liz!!!!!!!!!!!!!The small town I live In has banned k2 already.

(Report Comment)
Jeffrey Lebowski March 18, 2010 | 10:36 a.m.

Liz, why would a politician pay attention to scientific studies when they have YouTube to base their policies on?

(Report Comment)
Thomas Aquinas April 5, 2010 | 7:28 p.m.

I also agree that greater care must be taken before subjecting adults to serious criminal records for what may be a relatively harmless drug. K-2 and its series of related drugs (the JWH-xxx series of cannibinoid agonists) as well as Marijuana should all be legal for recreational use. They have not been shown to share the dangers of the serious Schedule I drugs.

Regarding the tar content of Marijuana, there are actually newer methods of consuming the drug that virtually eliminate tars--such as vaporization. Vaporization essentially evaporates only the THC (the active chemical in marijuana) so it can be absorbed in the lungs without combustion of the remaining marijuana leaf. It is a healthy alternative to the tars associated with actually smoking the herb.

The JWH series of chemicals contained in products such as K-2 should be handled with care by users as nobody really understands the long-term effects. The chemical may not metabolize as safely as THC in the body. However, this uncertainty should not immediately result in its listing as a Schedule I drug.

(Report Comment)
Reed FarField September 22, 2010 | 1:35 p.m.

<a href="">...> is some scary stuff, way worse than anything Pot could do (headaches, loss of vision). Spice is a stark reminder of the hypocrisy our government has in regulating what is safe and what is dangerous. It's time we reevaluated how we keep the public safe.

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