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Synthetic Drug Sales Booming Among Teens

Missouri's prohibition of dangerous designer drugs like K2 has done little to prevent teens from abusing them.


K2 still can be purchased under-the-counter
at many gas stations. Photo via

By May Wilkerson


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Although it's been illegal for months now in Missouri, sales of the synthetic drug K2 are thriving, due in part to a lack of awareness about its potentially lethal side effects. The designer drug with marijuana-like effects, made from a mix of herbs and chemicals, has been responsible for a surge of hospitalizations. Marketed under youth-friendly, weed-strain-reminiscent monikers like "Mr. Happy and Purple Diesel", the illegal substance is popular among teens, who can still purchase it under-the-counter at many gas stations and convenience stores.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly one in nine high school seniors have gotten high on synthetic drugs. The director of Jackson County, Missouri's anti-drug program, Stacey Stacey Daniels-Young, agrees: “Synthetics have been used more by young people than any illegal substance other than marijuana, probably because they have been so easy to obtain through ‘legal’ sources," she says. "Word about the availability of something new spreads faster than information about dangerous effects.” One Kansas City parent describes how her son's K2 addiction led to hospitalization and rehab, warning other parents to be vigilant. "Parents don’t have a clue as to what this stuff is," she says. "They need to walk into their children’s room and look into their cars, because they are going to be shocked.”

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