K2, a form of synthetic marijuana, is currently threatening the homeless population in East Harlem, a section of New York City, according to The New York Times. The drug is a potent mix of herbs and chemicals and its use has been on the rise in New York City thanks to its cheap price - it goes for a dollar or two, compared to the $5 cost of a marijuana joint.
K2 is currently illegal in New York state and has street names of Spice, AK-47 and Scooby Snax. However, like many newer, cheap street chemicals, manufacturers frequently change the chemical composition of K2 as substances become banned, meaning few arrests are made.
Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Council speaker, said that she is introducing a law that will ban any substances marketed as synthetic marijuana and that offenders could face a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
Texas has also recognized the drug as a problem - new laws came into effect in the state on Sept. 1 that give synthetic drugs a broader description and make it easier to find and arrest people who make and use synthetic drugs like K2, according the ABC News.
The K2 problem is representative of a larger one that has been on the rise recently: the increased prevalence of unregulated chemical drugs. Often times, these drugs are released too fast for laws and regulations to be able to control them - by the time they are controlled, another unregulated drug has taken its place.
Five people were hospitalized on Monday night in California for a synthetic marijuana overdose, according to NBC News, mirroring the problems the drug is currently causing in New York and Texas.