K2 - Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids are a class of drugs commonly referred to as K2. Though K2 affects the same area of the brain as marijuana, K2 contains chemicals made in laboratories and sprayed onto dry leaves. These chemicals are not derived from the marijuana plant.

K2 is packaged under numerous brand names, including: Spice, AK-47, Geeked up, Smacked, Green Giant Scooby Snax, Red Giant, Mr. Bad Guy, iBlown, and Trippy.

In New York State, it is illegal to possess, sell, offer to sell, or manufacture synthetic cannabinoids.

Is K2 Dangerous?

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K2 Poster
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K2 Poster in Spanish

K2 is 0% marijuana and is 100% dangerous. Since 2015, there have been more than 6,000 synthetic cannabinoid-related emergency department visits in NYC. Males account for approximately 90% of these emergency room visits. Death is a rare but serious risk associated with the use of K2. In New York City, there have been two confirmed deaths caused by K2.

Since the chemicals found in K2 vary from packet to packet, and potency can differ even within one packet, the effects of K2 are unpredictable. People who use K2 may feel fine one time, and become extremely sick the next. Regular users may also experience withdrawal and craving.

Some of the adverse health effects of using K2 include: extreme anxiety, confusion, paranoia, hallucinations, rapid heart rate, vomiting, seizures, fainting, kidney failure, and reduced blood supply to the heart. If you see anyone who is unconscious, unresponsive, or experiencing a seizure, call 911.

For more information on this K2 initiative, read the press release.

Information for Retailers

New K2 laws criminalize the manufacture, possession with intent to sell, and sale of synthetic cannabinoids. Selling K2 is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, fines of more than $100,000, prosecution under federal law, closure and eviction as a "public nuisance," and suspension or revocation of DCA cigarette retail dealer license. These new laws provide the City with additional enforcement tools to reduce the presence and use of K2 by aggressively cracking down on suppliers.

For more information on the K2 law to criminalize sale and production, read K2 Legislation into Law.

To view the K2 laws (Int. No. 917-A, Int. No. 897, Int. No. 885-A) visit the NYC Council Legislative Research Center.

Businesses committed to refrain from selling K2, may order a window cling for their doors or windows from the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Information for Providers

Poison Control

The NYC Poison Control Center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for treatment advice about exposures to poisons. Pharmacists and nurses certified in poison information are there to give advice. All calls are free and confidential. Call any time at 1-800-222-1222 or 212-POISONS (212-764-7667).

Find the right drug or alcohol abuse treatment program with the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator.

For 24 hour / seven days per week information and referral, call or visit 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355).