Committee Action to Ban the Dangerous Drug K2 Print Share

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved my legislation to ban the chemicals used to make the dangerous drug known as “K2” or “Spice.”  The bill is named the David Mitchell Rozga Act for the 18-year-old Iowa man who took his own life after using the drug.
David Rozga was like many young people who buy this drug so easily at the local mall or online that they think it’s safe and harmless.  The deceptive marketing makes the product look “organic” or like a common household product.  The opposite is true.  Packets of K2 might start with a few ounces of organic plant material, but that material is sprayed with harmful chemicals that have zero household use.  The chemicals tend to originate in China and other far-flung countries to avoid U.S. law enforcement detection.  When ingested, these chemicals are extremely harsh on the human body.   
Soon after graduating from Indianola High School last year, David Rozga smoked K2 with some friends.  Shortly afterward, he became highly agitated and terrified.  He committed suicide roughly within two hours after the chemical drugs comprising K2 entered his body.  David’s death might have been the first nationwide associated with synthetic drug use. Sadly, it was not the last, not even in the Midwest.  In January, a high school student in Omaha killed his assistant principal and himself.  He had K2 in his system.  
Poison control centers and emergency rooms around the country are reporting skyrocketing cases of calls and visits resulting from K2 use, with physical effects including increased agitation, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, hallucinations, and seizures.  A number of people across the country have acted violently while under the influence of the drug, dying or injuring themselves and others.  
Related synthetic drugs have had similarly tragic consequences.   In March, a 19-year-old man from Blaine, Minn., died after snorting a substance called 2C-E at a party.  Witnesses said that shortly after snorting the drug, this man began punching the walls, breaking items, and yelling. He then stopped breathing and died from cardiac arrest, according to his autopsy.  Ten other people also were admitted to the hospital after using the same product but fortunately survived. 
In May, a 36-year-old Tennessee man, the father of two girls, died after smoking a combination of “bath salts,” a form of synthetic cocaine, and K2, or products similar to K2. He was found in his home surrounded by synthetic drug packages. Doctors confirmed that he died from a drug overdose.  His sister said her brother started smoking these products because they did not show up on drug tests, and he wanted to find a job. 
K2 abuse even has led all branches of the military to ban the use of the synthetic drug after high-profile cases arose at the Naval Academy and on the U.S.S. Bataan, which was deployed to Libya.  
In addition to approving my bill to ban the chemicals used to make K2, the Judiciary Committee also approved bills from other senators that would ban the chemicals used to make other dangerous synthetic drugs -- bath salts, 2C-E and others. 
The full Senate and the House of Representatives should follow suit.  All of these drugs should be banned as soon as possible.  They’re all highly dangerous to users.  The chemicals used to produce them have no household use.  The manufacturers and sellers of these products are engaging in a cynical money-making ploy that plays with human life.
As Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, and Co-chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, I’ll continue to combat toxic substances used with tragic consequences.
Friday, July 29, 2011