OCEAN CITY — After
banning the psychoactive plant Salvia Divinorum from the resort via emergency
ordinance last summer, a newly alleged hallucinogenic herbal smoking blend has
popped up in Boardwalk stores in the early weeks of the summer season,
according to Ocean City police this week.
Although officials say
that it is too early to tell what action the city will take if in fact these
new products allegedly being sold in some resort retail stores are found to be
similar to salvia, Ocean City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said she almost
expected a new strain to emerge after last year’s ban.
“I am not the least bit
surprised, but I will say that I am very concerned about it,” the chief said.
“We are still doing tests and research on the products and if the preliminary
reports that I’m hearing end up being true, I would expect us to take similar
action with these products as we did with salvia and recommend that they be
Reports this week
indicated that at least one of the handful of stores that were selling salvia
last year were peddling two new herbal smoking blends, thought to be K-2 and
K-3, which are herbs and spices that are sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids
(most notably JWH-018), which mimics the effects of cannabis or marijuana.
K-2 aka Spice (which is
named after the mountain K2 in Pakistan, which is the second only to Mount
Everest as the highest mountain in the world), was banned in Kansas and
Kentucky and its prohibition is pending in several other states.
After its ban in Kansas,
a new strain of K-2 emerged in local retail stores called K-3 and was being
marketed as herbal potpourri and was suggested to not be for human consumption,
despite flavors such as winter mint, dark cocoa and fruity pebbles.
As with salvia, the
euphoric or perhaps even hallucinogenic effects of K-2 and K-3 usually occur
after the product is smoked. Concurrently, the products are being deemed by some
lawmakers, including those in Kansas, as legal marijuana with much harsher side
effects (reportedly four to five times the potency) than the THC found in
Industry reports on the
herb say that it was created by a Clemson University organic chemistry
professor called Dr. John Huffman in 1995, who was doing a research paper on
the effects of cannabinoids on the brain.
However, when Huffman
published the ingredients to make the compound, it was stolen or used by herbal
entrepreneurs who then put K-2 on the market, similarly to the way independent
chemists poached and sold Dr. John Hoffman’s scientific discovery of LSD in the
Either way, DiPino said
she expects the research to be finished by next week’s Police Commission
meeting with a review and imminent recommendation to the Mayor and City Council
soon to follow.
“We’ve got a little bit
more work to make a proper recommendation, but it looks like this could be a
lot like last year,” said DiPino.