A woman in Anchorage, Alaska believes she knows the best way to combat the deadly synthetic marijuana epidemic that has crazed her town. By offering users dried cannabis flowers in exchange for their synthetic marijuana, also known as spice, Nicole Crites hopes to reduce the number of spice users on the street.
Spice, also referred to as K2, should not really be referred to as “synthetic marijuana” because it is not related to cannabis at all. Spice is just herbs that have been sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids. These synthetic chemicals are designed to imitate the the cannabinoids which occur naturally in cannabis and give users a sensation of being high that is different than that from marijuana.
Spice, which is among those listed as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, is not regulated and therefore offers no ingredients on the label for users to see what they are actually consuming. The effects of abuse can be devastatingly harmful and even fatal. Symptoms of spice overdose include vomiting, extreme agitation and psychotic episodes including hallucinations, and even heart attacks.
“Just driving down Karluk Street, anytime of day, you’ll find people passed out from it. I don’t see it addressed by anybody,”
Crites reports that she has been thinking about this idea for quite some time, and she is now bringing her idea into reality. She plans to find spice users on the streets of Anchorage and offer them the chance to exchange it for free marijuana. For every gram of spice a user is willing to destroy in front of her, she will reward them with twice the amount in cannabis flowers.
The Anchorage Municipal Attorney’s Office has a much different outlook on the spice epidemic, and says Crites’ program is “potentially illegal.” Warning her of walking a legal fine line, the Anchorage police department has reached out to Crites to ensure she is aware of the laws. As long as she does not personally come into possession of the spice and the marijuana is given only as a gift to those who are of legal age to consume it, then she is not breaking the law.
Crites stated her first “spice destruction, harm reduction” exchange will go forth as planned, and that she does not anticipate halting the program anytime soon. She explained,
“I just need to go forward. If you feel like you’re doing something right, you do it.”
Crites is married to the the owner of Anchorage’s Absolutely Chronic Delivery Company, and their dispensary will be providing the cannabis to be donated in this marijuana exchange campaign.