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The movement to criminalize K2 synthetic marijuana is using the death of an Iowa teen as proof that the compound is dangerous.
Des Moines Register reports that 18-year-old David Rozga of Indianola, Iowa, was smoking K2 with friends when he "freaked out" and said he was "going to hell." He then started walking home, telling his friends he was going to go to sleep. Instead, he committed suicide.
But was this the result of a teen under the influence or the actions of a
depressed boy in need of psychological help?
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Rozga's death prompted the Iowa Governor's Office of Drug Policy Control to issue a statewide warning about K2, claiming that the compound causes people to hallucinate. Having smoked the stuff ourselves
, using multiple testers on multiple occasions, we have as informed an opinion on the psychological effects as you're likely to find. Not one tester reported anything close to hallucinations. Also, none experienced any of the "bad trip" phenomena cited by those seeking to ban it.
There were warning signs, according to the mother of one of Rozga's friends, who told the Register
that the teen had spoken openly of suicide before and was depressed. Rozga's parents -- understandably -- rejected that idea, saying their son wouldn't have worked so hard to get into college if he didn't care about life, and it must have been the drug that sealed his doom.
Of course Rozga's parents and friends are devastated by their loss, and all the sympathy in the world to them. But suicide almost never makes sense to the people left behind. To blame K2 and use Rozga's death to fly the flag for a ban oversimplifies both K2 and teen suicide. (See the February feature "Fake Reefer Madness
" for the potential research benefits of K2.) If the drug is going to be banned -- and a Missouri bill awaits Gov. Jay Nixon
's signature -- it should be due to the substance's proven physical dangers. That's research no one seems willing to do; if someone has done the work, we haven't seen the findings. In almost a year of K2's unregulated use -- not just in this market but around the country -- not a single overdose has been reported. Rozga photo via
The Des Moines Register.