K2 | St. Louis Public Radio

K2

Donald Hutson is one of hundreds of people who have overdosed while in state prisons since May 2017, according to Missouri Department of Corrections records.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Destini Hutson spent much of her childhood picturing what life would be like when her dad came home.

Over time, her plans turned to the practical: teach him how to use an iPhone, help him find a job, go to Chick-fil-A together.

“‘It’s a lot that you’re going to have to learn,’” Hutson told her dad, Donald, who went to prison in 1997 when she was still a baby.

Those plans came to a halt last September, when Donald Hutson died of a drug overdose at Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific. He’s one of more than 430 inmates who have overdosed in state prisons since May 2017, according to internal data from the Missouri Department of Corrections. While there are many ways drugs are smuggled into prisons, DOC employees say internal corruption is a key part of the problem.

Paramedics with the St. Louis Fire Department tend to a person who had taken the synthetic marijuana known as K2 outside the New Life Evangelistic Center on Nov. 10, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Social services providers in St. Louis are working to combat a spike in the number of people overdosing on a synthetic marijuana known as K2.

Since Monday, the St. Louis Fire Department had treated at least 100 people suffering the effects of the drug.  Many of the victims were clustered around downtown homeless shelters and service providers.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

At least a half-dozen people are behind bars in the St. Louis area following a nationwide crackdown on the sale of designer narcotics known as "bath salts" or K2.

The federal Drug Enforcement Agency coordinated the Wednesday operation known as "Log Jam." Overall, nearly 80 people were arrested, and more than 5 million packets of the synthetic drugs seized, along with tons of raw material. It was the first coordinated strike.

Mo. expands law against synthetic drugs

Jul 14, 2011
(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

For the second time in as many years, Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation outlawing the sale of synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of cocaine and marijuana.

The bill signed Thursday by Nixon takes aim at products often marketed as bath salts, incense or spices.

Last year, Nixon signed legislation banning one type of synthetic marijuana called spice cannabinoids, which are sprayed on plants and often sold under the name "K2."

But other forms of synthetic marijuana with different chemical formulas quickly went on the market.

Morning Headlines: Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011

Feb 24, 2011

Good morning! Here are some of today's starting headlines:

  • Missouri Legislative leaders and Gov. Jay Nixon expect to receive population an demographic figures from the U.S. Census Bureau today. The data is important for state lawmakers to start developing new congressional districts. Missouri officials already know the state will drop from nine to eight congressional districts based upon statewide population figures released in December by the Census Bureau. State lawmakers will develop and approve the new boundaries for Missouri just like any other legislation. The Legislature plans hearing on redistricting in the state Capitol and across the state.
  • Missouri lawmakers are poised to make another run at outlawing some synthetic drugs. Missouri was among more than a dozen states last year that banned a synthetic form of marijuana known as K2, which is a concoction of dried herbs sprayed with chemicals. But before the law even took effect, alternatives were hitting the market that had made slight changes to the synthetic formula and thus got around the new law. Republican Rep. Ward Franz of West Plains is sponsoring legislation this year that would add more synthetic cannabinoids to the outlawed list. The bill also would outlaw a synthetic form of cocaine that is being sold as bath salts in some Missouri stores.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 6, 2010 - Gov. Jay Nixon asserted today that "this is the week'' when the Legislature determines by its actions whether it will encourage Ford Motor Co. to keep its plant in suburban Kansas City, or move to another state offering incentives.

But the official word from both chambers this afternoon is that any substantive action will be delayed until next week.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 17, 2010 - The Missouri House and Senate have passed similar versions of a bill that would ban the chemical compound found in a legal marijuana substitute known as K2.

The House bill, introduced by state Rep. Ward Franz, R-West Plains, would place the synthetic compound that is purportedly sprayed on dried herbs and spices to give users a high on the state’s list of banned substances. Lawmakers are responding, in part, to concern among law enforcement officers, school officials, parents and a toxicologist at St. Louis University who recently reported a spike in young people complaining of unusual adverse effects after smoking K2.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 9, 2010 - On Monday, St. Charles County passed an emergency ordinance banning K2 and similar substances, and other Missouri lawmakers are looking to do the same. In the meantime, some stores are reporting a spike in K2 sales while some people who have tried this marijuana substitute are reporting adverse reactions, such as hallucination.

How does a mixture of dried herbs and spices attract so much attention and alarm?