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K2 is now illegal, and thankfully so considering a new report shows that over 11,000 people were sent to the emergency room in 2010 after using the product. While that number is still much smaller than those who went to the hospital for marijuana-related causes during the same time period, it is still troublesome considering that K2 is marketed as a "safe" and legal alternative to the real thing.

The statistics were released by the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), a federal government program. While Rear Admiral Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, says that hospitalization from K2 isn't an epidemic, he nevertheless warns that people should seriously consider the risks of using the product because negative health consequences are a growing problem. Synthetic marijuana is commonly sold under the names K2 or spice, and is typically sold at gas stations. The product came onto the U.S. market in 2008, and wholesale purchases of the product were banned by the FDA this year.

Most of the patients mentioned in the report had only one substance in their systems–K2. Furthermore, most of the patients were men and between the ages of 12 and 24. Other experts urge people to reconsider the safety claims of K2. Dr. Adam Bisaga, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and an addiction psychiatrist with the New York State Psychiatric Institute says:

…with something sold as part of a 'spice package' you might think you're smoking herbs. And they're not herbs. You're not smoking tea or oregano. These are chemicals that are synthesized from scratch to act on the same receptors in the brain as real marijuana. But they are just pure chemicals, with no quality control and with the real potential to be toxic.

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