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Columbia Missourian

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

By Tom Warhover
May 6, 2010 | 7:04 p.m. CDT

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.


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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.