How does K2 work?

K2 works by affecting the brain and mimicking the effects of marijuana on the body. More on K2’s uses, side effects, and dangers here.

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K2 is made of illicit drugs and chemicals meant to mimic the effects of THC, the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana.

The length of time K2 stays in the system varies by person, although most effects wear off within a few days and K2 metabolites are detected up to 72 hours after ingestion.  So how does K2 affect the body and brain? Does K2 have the same effects for everyone? What are the dangers and side effects of K2 use? Finally, is K2 addictive? We’ll explore all those questions and more here, and we welcome your questions about how K2 works at the end.

How does K2 work in the body?

Since K2 is a very new drug in the U.S., it’s not completely clear to researchers, scientists and pharmacology experts exactly how K2 ingredients work in the body. Plus, no two packs of K2 Spice are really the same. In fact, there are currently over 100 types of synthetic cannabinoids on the market. So what’s in K2?

Packets of K2 contain shredded plants which have been sprayed with chemical compounds meant to mimic the “high” of marijuana. Each individual batch of K2 might contain different chemicals or combinations of chemicals (not to mention different types of plants), so it may have very different effects each time it’s taken.  Some of the most common chemicals found in K2 include:

  • AM – 694
  • CP – 47,497
  • CP – 47,497-C8
  • HU-210
  • JWH – 015
  • JWH – 018
  • JWH – 019
  • JWH – 073
  • JWH – 122
  • JWH – 200
  • JWH – 250
  • JWH – 398

How does K2 affect the brain and nervous system?

In general, K2’s side effects are reported to be very unpleasant, and can sometimes be very dangerous. Emergency departments across the US are seeing a rise in K2-related visits, leading to crackdowns on what’s been marketed as a “legal” high. Even if you don’t overdose on K2, the effect on the heart and the brain can be disturbing. In fact, many more people are reporting hallucinations and bad trips on K2, or becoming addicted to K2 incense. K2 affects the central nervous system and can cause a variety of effects, including:

  • agitation
  • hallucinations
  • rapid heart rate
  • vomiting

How fast does K2 work?

K2 enters the body quickly when smoked, with effects beginning within 5-10 minutes of taking the drug. The synthetic cannabinoids contained in K2 reach peak levels in the blood within 10-45 minutes. However, it’s currently unclear how long K2 stays in the body after being taken, although special urine based drug screens can detect K2 use within 2-3 days of ingestion.

How long does K2 work?

K2’s effects start to drop off within 45 minutes. However, the half-life of synthetic weed like K2 is often slightly longer than that of THC, creating a longer-lasting high than marijuana.

What makes K2 work better

K2 is most often smoked, sometimes alone in a pipe, and sometimes mixed with tobacco in a cigarette. Often, it’s labeled as “incense” and marked “not for human consumption.” Given the variety of potential side effects, people interested in trying K2 might want to take that warning to heart. K2 is also sometimes taken as a tea after being steeped in warm water, which will have a slower and milder onset of effects.

Does K2 work for everyone?

K2 is a risky alternative to marijuana, although some people seem to take K2 without the side effects. So little is known about K2, and this can be much more dangerous than taking a drug with more research behind it.

Furthermore, K2 is still sometimes marketed as a “legal” alternative to marijuana, but this is no longer true – many states and the U.S. military have made the drug illegal, and there are current federal restrictions on its use. While some people recommend taking K2 to avoid a positive drug test, it’s not a foolproof strategy. New drug tests are increasingly looking for the synthetic cannabinoids found in K2 and similar products.

How K2 works questions

Do you still have questions about K2? Please leave your questions or comment below. We invite your discussion about K2 and will try to respond to all queries with a personal and prompt reply.

Reference Sources: National Institute on Drug Abuse: InfoFacts: Spice
Drug Enforcement Agency: Drug Fact Sheet: K2 or Spice
NIDA for Teens: “Spice” – Not as fun as it sounds
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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