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Bill Aims to Ban K-2 Alternatives

It’s been nearly a year since Missouri banned the synthetic marijuana K-2. Now, legislators are working on a new bill that they hope would put a stop to other synthetic drugs like bath salts and K-2 alternatives. KSMU’s Adam Hammons reports.

As more legal alternatives to K-2 spring up, legislators are working to outlaw many of these products. Ward Franz is a State Representative of the one-hundred-fifty-first district which includes West Plains. Franz is sponsoring a bill that he says has a more general wording that will include many K-2 alternatives, including variations of compounds.

“Last year it was just focusing on the compounds in the synthetic cannabinoids, and this year we included the compounds that we know of. And then we’ve come up with some language that kind of broadens the definition.”

Franz says bath salts, or substances used to mimic cocaine, are also included in the legislation.

“What I’m hoping is this is going to give our law enforcement a little extra room to expand on dealing with these products. So that when a new compound comes out, they’ll be able to deal with it, rather than wait a year for the legislature to catch up.”

“I’m here on North Glenstone next to an antique shop where an old ice cream place has been turned into a drive-thru that sells K-2 alternatives. On the front of the store a big sign reads how much it costs to buy these herbal essences. In a span of 10 minutes, three cars have pulled up and three people have walked to the window. This is just one of many stores in the Springfield area that sells these K-2 alternatives.”

“Not knowing what those side effects are, not knowing how that can affect somebody, they need to be very careful when they’re considering taking this or not.”

That’s Chris Davis, the deputy director of substance abuse at Community Partnership of the Ozarks. He says some consequences from using these substances are vomiting, loss of breathing, and seizures. He also says they can slow the body’s ability to dispose of certain drugs.

“The scary part about that is, some people can reach toxic levels of medication that they’re taking, even though they may be taking doses that should not be toxic.”

Davis says he doesn’t know if this legislation will stop the use of K-2 alternatives. He says it’s also important to know why people are abusing these substances.

“Until we get to what it is that’s causing a person to want to abuse a substance, we’re going to continue having the ambulance down at the bottom of the river, picking up the people that have fallen over the cliff. Rather than going up to the top of the cliff and figuring out how people are falling over in the first place.”

After many Missourians were able to side skirt last year’s bill on K-2 just by finding alternatives, Ward Franz says he hopes that this one would be more effective.

“Hopefully this will take care of it, but if it doesn’t, we’re going to be back next year and keep fighting.”

KSMU asked multiple vendors to talk about their sale of K-2 alternatives, but they did not agree to an interview.

For KSMU News, I’m Adam Hammons.