DEAR READER: Is K2 in the same league as meth? Nope.

Thursday, May 6, 2010 | 7:04 p.m. CDT; updated 7:48 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 6, 2010

State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, made an extraordinary claim this week.

The Senate on Wednesday outlawed synthetic marijuana, often known by the brand name K2. A similar bill has passed in the House, and now the two must be resolved.

The biggest difference, according to the Missourian report by Emily Coleman: The House wants any possession to be a Class C felony, whereas the Senate prefers to use the current marijuana standard of 35 grams or more.

Which brings us to Schaefer’s argument.

Schaefer, the story said, compared “K2 more to methamphetamines instead of marijuana because K2 is a chemically synthesized drug.”


The logic astounded and confounded me.

While it’s true that K2 is made from chemicals, so is Diet Coke. And Twinkies, which packs in stuff like calcium caseinate, sodium stearol lactylate and calcium sulphate.

I have no idea what those things are. But I don’t think they grow like marijuana leaves.

I thought: Perhaps Coleman misheard. So I went to the Associated Press, which elaborated.

Schaefer, reporter Sarah Wire wrote, “said lawmakers should keep in mind that the mix is a man-made synthetic compound and not a naturally occurring plant like marijuana.

“’This is not marijuana, it should not be treated like marijuana, it should be treated like methamphetamine,’ Schaefer said. ‘This is not some organic substance that’s been around for a long time.’”

My question, dear reader, isn’t whether Schaefer should have said what he said. Politicians have a right to say the strangest things, and so they do.

(Democrat Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Jackson County, was quoted as wanting to tell teens: “it will kill you.” The more likely culprits among teens: auto accidents, suicide and homicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control.)

I simply wish the reports coming out of our state and national legislative bodies would be quicker to point out acts of violence against logic and fact.

The inherent reporting handicap is always there: time, or the lack of it.  The insistence on speed never goes away. In fact, I called our Jeff City bureau to inquire about the story when I saw it first on the website of that other newspaper in town.

Linking helps in providing context.

For online readers, the news of the day was linked to other graphics and stories about the issue. A careful reader could learn about the science involved and the effects of smoking the synthetic.

The links didn’t extend to knowledge about methamphetamines though.

K2 research suggests it’s probably bad for you.

But meth is downright nasty.

Meth is more addictive than crack.

Users sometimes break their teeth by grinding them and gouge holes in their skin to get at itches in their veins.

There’s a debate to be had about the problems associated with K2 and with meth.

But it isn’t the same debate.




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Mark Foecking May 7, 2010 | 3:30 a.m.

Calcium caseinate is the calcium salt of the major protein in milk. It's good for you (source of calcium and protein).

Sodium stearoyl lactylate is a type of mild soap, which the body can also use for food (though it doesn't taste very good). Stearic acid (from beef tallow or vegetable oil) is combined with the alcohol residue of lactic acid (the acid that makes milk sour, and makes our muscles sore after exercise) as an ester (organic salt), and the acid part of lactic acid is made into a soap with a mild solution of lye.

Calcium sulfate (American spelling) is gypsum. It's a large component of sheet rock. In small quantities it's also good for you (source of calcium and sulfate). In large quantities it'll cause diarrhea.

A lot of people freak out when they see name they can't pronounce in the ingredients list on prepared food. However, virtually all of these things are considerably safer and more innocuous than toxins that occur naturally in food plants as part of their defense against pests.

Chemophobia causes a lot of confusion, cost, and fear. A lot of it is due to people reacting emotionally to something could be objectively known if people would just take the time to research it (or ask someone that knows).


(Report Comment)
Kay Ellis May 7, 2010 | 5:58 p.m.

Thanks so much for giving us a non-biased story. The news lately has been crazy about this stuff. Stories across the country are stirring up wild fear without checking out the facts, and I'm not sure any of them has done their homework like you have here.

Yes, this is a drug, but alcohol is killing and permanently maiming people -- especially teens -- by the hundreds of thousands, and not a single death has been linked to this.

No, teens shouldn't be able to buy it -- they don't have the physical brain growth necessary to make good choices about temptations. But adults should be able to make their own choice.

Sometimes I think the only reason this is going through state legislatures so quickly (and with such hue and cry) is its easier to get face time on tv as a politician than getting real substantive work done. Its way easier to look good saying this stuff could kill you than it is making responsible budget decisions.

(Report Comment)
Jose Melendez May 8, 2010 | 6:43 a.m.


The Columbia, Missouri SWAT team and the city attorney's office WANTS YOUR FEEDBACK on how this incident was handled:

Over 800,000 Americans are arrested every year over this issue, some like the folks above, who were raided by the Columbia, Missouri SWAT team, had their pet dogs shot and children abducted under color of law*.

Yes, thousands of emails may be ignored, but add dozens of well reasoned, articulate calls, faxes and letters a day and you have their attention. Of course, add your letterhead if you are an attorney, it gives them . . . pause.

Remember: Call. Write. But be polite!

Columbia Police Department
600 East Walnut
Columbia, MO 65201-4491
573-874-7652 / FAX: 573-874-3142

online contact info:

- - -

* The demonstrably false claim used to arrest pot users is that cannabis and cannabinoids are lawfully listed in Schedule I, having “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision”.

Here’s the truth for those who can handle it:

Marinol is a Schedule III synthetic chemical that works like THC, a psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. It is administered at 100 percent strength, up to five times more powerful than the strongest available strains on the black market, about twice as strong as hashish. Generically named Dronabinol, warning labels specifically permit driving and using machinery when users know how the medicine affects them.

On October 7, 2003, the United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded patent #6630507
( ) to the Department of Health and Human Services, acknowledging an accepted medical use in treatment for cannabinoids, and detailing a wide variety of safe, acceptable uses under medical supervision for which their “inventions” applied.

Got reparations?

(Report Comment)
Dan Dothage May 13, 2010 | 2:21 p.m.

An interesting article.

Here's a link to another:

It contains actual input from the creator of JWH-018, chemist John W. Huffman.

With the experts stating that affects are 10 times that of marijuana's THC, I'd say it's pretty dangerous. I'm in support of the State's Legislature on this one.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking May 18, 2010 | 3:33 p.m.

Potency and effect are two different things.

Etorphine (M99, an opiate used to tranquilize elephants and other large wild animals) is over 1000 times as potent, on a weight basis, than morphine. However, it does not cause 1000 times the analgesia, or 1000 times the respiratory depression. It causes a similar effect to morphine (including death if too much is given), but in 1/1000 the dose (by weight).

JWH-018 is about 10 times as "potent" as delta-9-THC (or Marinol - they're the same compound). That does not mean it necessarily gets you 10 times as high.


(Report Comment)

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