Though not regulated federally or by the state as a controlled substance, K2 is testing a lot of local laws and policies across the nation.
That is true in Mineral Wells ISD. A Mineral Wells Junior High student was recently caught in possession of K-2. The fringe narcotic – sold as incense but made to provide a marijuana-like high – is considered contraband by the district.
The substance's sale and possession was recently banned by the city.
The student was cited under the city's ordinance, and placed into the school district's alternative education program.
“We're going to treat it like we would any contraband,” said MWISD Assistant Superintendent Linda Porter-Bradford.
Under MWISD student code of conduct regarding illegal, prescription and over-the-counter drugs the district has enough teeth to make any student possessing K2 serve time in the district's Discipline Alternative Education Program.
“There, they get their school work, aren't running the streets, but still have to pay the price of bringing a pill [or contraband substance] to school,” said Porter-Bradford. “It's better for us to have them where we can educate them so we don't lose time [with the students].”
MWISD policy states that students may not:
• Possess or sell look-alike drugs or attempt to pass items off as drugs or contraband.
• Abuse over-the-counter drugs.
• Be under the influence of prescription or over-the-counter drugs that cause impairment of the physical or mental faculties.
• Abuse the student’s own prescription drug, give a prescription
drug to another student, or possess or be under the influence of another person’s prescription drug on school property or
at a school-related event.
• Have or take prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs at school other than as provided by district policy.
In addition to being drug-free, all campuses and facilities are tobacco and smoke-free.
“All those are general violations of our code of conduct,” said Porter-Bradford. “K2 has been declared banned by the city so, to us, it's like an over-the-counter drug because it's meant to alter your state of mind.”
She said 95 percent of the district's illegal substance possession cases that aren't mandatory (by state jail felony statutes) result in students serving serving a minimum of 20 days in the DAEP.
“Most of these are kids who said, 'So-and-so handed me this and asked me to hold it.' It was never much – usually one to two pills passed from one to another and somebody talked or saw it. We finally get down to the truth.
“We have to keep our eyes open and make sure we catch it and at least try to make the students understand the consequences of illegal drug use,” she said.
Last year, MWISD had four drug-related mandatory expulsions to the DAEP.
“Those students won't stay less than 40 days. We can expel them [to DAEP] for up to a year,” noted Porter-Bradford.
What is K2?
K2 is a dried herb blend coated with synthetic chemicals, known as JWH-018 and JWH-073, that mimic tetrahydrocannabinol – the psychoactive chemical that provides marijuana's high. These man-made chemicals act on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. K2 and its related synthetic herbal products are marketed as incense, which means they don't list its ingredients on the package.
Despite a warning on its packaging that K2 is not for human consumption and intended for aromatherapy use only, the synthetic cannabinoid is smoked like marijuana.
Smoking the synthetic product has caused medical problems for some residents, including hallucinations, vomiting, confusion, passing out and increased heart rate. Dr. John Jones, medical director of the Palo Pinto General Hospital Emergency Room, reported personally treating five or six patients in August, ranging from 15 to 25 years old, with symptoms believed to be caused by K2.
In recent months many cities throughout North Texas have responded by banning K2 and like products.
On Aug. 17, Mineral Wells city council voted unanimously to ban K2 along with the natural herb Salvia Divinorum – considered a psychoactive plant – and paraphernalia such as pipes or bongs used to smoke the substances. Prior to the ban, K2 could be purchased in head shops and convenience store in Mineral Wells. It is still available in some towns and online.
“We have no statutory authority to do anything about it,” Palo Pinto County Judge Mike Smiddy announced at commissioners court Monday.
He said that he and Sheriff Ira Mercer discussed what action they could take on K2, now that Mineral Wells has banned the substance.
“If we don't and if the Legislature doesn't do something about it, we're going to have head shops in the county,” Mercer noted to commissioners. He added that he is concerned about medical issues and possible fatalities that are reportedly attributed to K2.
Index reporter Cristin Coyne contributed to this article. Staff writer Libby Cluett can be reached at (940) 325-4465, ext. 3422, or email@example.com.