into the use of "synthetic marijuana" at the U.S. Naval Academy has
resulted in the expulsion of eight midshipman in 2011, a number academy
officials say will increase in the months ahead. This raises several
interesting questions, the most pressing of which is: what the heck is
describes it as "an herbal potpourri sprayed with
chemicals that, when smoked, produces mood-altering effects" and has
the added bonus of not being detectable in most drug screenings. A 2010 Newsweek
article traces the origins of the drug--also known as K2 and
Spice--back to the mid-1990s, when a Clemson University chemist named
John Huffman synthesized JWH-018, a chemical "structurally similar to
THC, the active ingredient in pot, and apparently quite a bit more
potent." It wasn't long before word of Huffman's discovery leaked out and
users with access to the chemical began "spraying it onto varying mixes
of dried herbs, flowers, and tobacco leaves."
According to the
Post story, use of the substance is "rising at an alarming rate"
throughout the armed services. Midshipman in particular can't seem to
get enough, smuggling the faux-weed onto campus. One off-campus
apartment was turned into a "synthetic marijuana party house" and is
still said to be in operation. Officials only realized the extent of the
problem when they seized a sheet of paper from a former midshipman
outlining "an apparent plan for a synthetic marijuana ring." In addition
to the names of potential customers, the document outlined plans for an
off-campus party house "outfitted with a lava lamp, big-screen TV,
'stocked fridge,' dance floor, strobe lights and a 'giant bong.'"
presumably lots and lots of herbal potpourri.
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
rgustini at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.