The rapid rise in popularity of drugs known as "fake weed" and "fake speed" comes mainly from the desire of drug users to get high without getting caught. Marijuana shows up in drug tests. So does cocaine. So drug makers have created a class of synthetic drugs that mimics the effects of marijuana and cocaine without showing up in drug tests.
The drugs are sold as K2 or Spice (fake marijuana, and it has many other store names); they're also sold as various forms of bath salts (fake cocaine, though it has been limited by recent legislation). It's hard to ban fake marijuana in particular, because drug makers use nearly 400 different compounds to create it. When the government bans one of them, they simply remove it and insert another compound in its place.
Perhaps the worst part of this story is the fact that fake marijuana and fake speed are more dangerous and less predictable than marijuana and cocaine. Pot can bring its own set of problems, but it rarely puts people in the emergency room. Fake pot puts people in the ER constantly.
Some people, often Libertarians, are asking: Why not just legalize marijuana? That would eliminate the need for this darker, more dangerous version known as fake weed. Some Libertarians also favor legalizing hard drugs for the same reasons.
Today, Senator Chuck Schumer did not deny that legalization would eliminate the need for the dangerous knock-offs. He acknowledges it would do the opposite.
"That's for sure," Senator Schumer said at a news conference in Rochester. "If you legalized cocaine, you wouldn't need fake cocaine."
But Senator Schumer indicated that a society must have values, and he said that drug legalization is a dangerous road to go down.
"If society comes to a view, as it is, that these drugs are bad for you, and if they're legal - whenever we've had an experience of legalizing drugs, usage has gone up dramatically," Schumer said. "And many, many more people - particularly young people - have been hurt. If you think marijuana should be legal, you shoulnd't be for our legislation."
The legislation he's talking about is designed to ban all synthetic drugs from over-the-counter sale. Currently, it's being blocked by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Evan Dawson/Anchor, Reporter