Thirteen states thought they were acting to curb a public health threat when they outlawed a form of synthetic marijuana known as K2, a concoction of dried herbs sprayed with chemicals, says the Associated Press. Before the laws took effect, many stores got around the bans by making slight changes to K2’s chemical formula, creating knockoffs with names such as K3 and Syn. “It’s kind of pointless,” said University of Missouri sophomore Brittany May after purchasing a K2 alternative called BoCoMo Dew at a smoke shop. “They’re just going to come up with another thing.”
Barely six months after Kansas adopted the nation’s first ban on K2, even police acknowledge that the laws are all but meaningless because merchants can so easily offer legal alternatives. Until a year ago, products like K2 were virtually unknown. Clemson University chemistry professor John Huffman developed the compounds in 1995 while researching the effect of cannabinoids, the active compounds found in marijuana. The bans were adopted by lawmakers or public health officials in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Tennessee.