Tennessee bans synthetic herbs used as alternative to marijuana

Tennessee bans synthetic herbs used as alternative to marijuana

Posted:
The product is incense or herbs coated with a chemical derivative of THC, the substance found in marijuana that gets users high. The product is incense or herbs coated with a chemical derivative of THC, the substance found in marijuana that gets users high.
A clerk at a West Knoxville shop said they had the chemical substance behind a curtain. A clerk at a West Knoxville shop said they had the chemical substance behind a curtain.

By HANA KIM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Some people call it faux pot. Others call it legal marijuana.

It's supposed to give you the same high as marijuana without containing the plant.

The product is incense or herbs coated with a chemical derivative of THC, the substance found in marijuana that gets users high.

Last week during a traffic stop in Scott County, officers discovered an ounce of what they called calling "Mojo," a form of synthetic herbal incense.

Mojo and other types have been legal in Tennessee, but beginning July 1 that is changing.

Tennessee is following the lead of several other states and is banning the synthetic substances. 

6 News found Monday that it was surprisingly easy to find fake marijuana, specifically a herb called K2, in our area.

K2 comes in a small package. 6 News bought a gram of it for $25.

We visited three local stores undercover and found that all three were selling K2. 

The clerks at all three stores said they only sold tobacco products.

A clerk at a West Knoxville shop said they had the chemical substance behind a curtain, but once we identified ourselves from 6 News, the manager refused to sell it to us or comment about it.

At a another store, it was evident that K2 was in demand. A woman clerk told a 6 News photographer who was working undercover that she had already sold eight packets of K2 the same day. 

Once we identified ourselves, the employee became uncomfortable, saying she had no comment.

At the third store, where we bought a gram of K2, the man at the counter at first wouldn't talk about the substance after learning who we were.

"It's clearly labeled not for consumption on the packaging," he later said. "We don't know what happens to the stuff once it leaves here."

A spokesperson for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said products like K2 have been on their radar since 2008. They say it is a growing danger all across the country.

It is not uncommon for people using synthetic marijuana, especially young teens, to end up in the hospital.

Side effects include heart palpitations and hallucinations.

Officials say the most dangerous aspect of synthetic marijuana is that the products are unregulated. People who buy them often have no idea what kind of specific derivatives of THC is being used to coat the herbs.

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