Why K2 Is the Prisoner's Choice

By Seth Ferranti 08/08/12

Prisoners tell The Fix one way to get high inside and still avoid the "hole."

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Prisoners beat the system with K2.
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Cops and DEA agents raided dozens of businesses suspected of selling drugs like K2 and Spice in almost 100 cities recently, as part of the first-ever nationwide crackdown on synthetic drugs. They might have done better to focus on our country's correctional facilities: K2 use is rampant on the inside, where its properties help users avoid detection. "K2 is cheaper and easier to get than marijuana and you smuggle it in the same way," one prisoner tells The Fix. "The thing about it is, when you smoke it you won't get a dirty and the guards don't know what the fuck the smell is. They think it's incense or something. The homies have been beating the urine tests and we smoke K2 everyday."

In prison the C/Os carry out random drug testing and urinalysis. If a prisoner gets a dirty, he can go to the hole for 60 days—as well as losing phone, commissary, visiting and email privileges for up to six months, and getting 41 good-time credit days taken away. That's some pretty steep sanctions, giving some prisoners second thoughts about smoking marijuana. But they still want to get stoned, so they smoke K2: the "consequence-free" high. "I've been smoking K2 like crazy," the prisoner says. "This is fun for me. This is how I do my time. I spend all my money on K2. I want to stay stoned. But going to the hole for dirties is some bullshit. Ain't nobody trying to go the hole for that. It's like going to jail when you're already in prison."

The Special Housing Unit or SHU—known as the hole or the bucket—is where prisoners are housed when they're found guilty of disciplinary infractions like dirty urine, getting drunk or smuggling in drugs. It's basically 24-hour lockdown in a cell. Smoking K2 enables prisoners to get high and still avoid that. But the prison administrators will catch on soon—if they haven't already. "My homie told me they got new cups for the tests that register for K2," the prisoner says. "But that's a rumor. I'll know for sure when they piss me, because I've been burning that K2 up."

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After landing on the US Marshals Top-15 Most Wanted list and being sentenced to a 25 year sentence in federal prison for a first-time, nonviolent LSD offense, Seth built a writing and journalism career from his cell block. His raw portrayals of prison life and crack era gangsters graced the pages of Don DivaHoopshype and VICE. From prison he established Gorilla Convict, a true-crime publisher and website that documents the stories that the mainstream media can’t get with books like Prison Stories and Street Legends. His story has been covered by The Washington PostThe Washington Times, and Rolling Stone.

Since his release in 2015 he’s worked hard to launch GR1ND Studios, where true crime and comics clash. GR1ND Studios is bringing variety to the comic shelf by way of the American underground. These groundbreaking graphic novels tell the true story of prohibition-era mobsters, inner-city drug lords, and suburban drug dealers. Seth is currently working out of St. Louis, Missouri, writing for The FixVICEOZY, Daily Beast, and Penthouse and moving into the world of film. Check out his first short, Easter Bunny Assassin at sethferranti.com. You can find Seth on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.

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