Welcome to the dedicated page for Healthy Cleveland's K2/Spice awareness campaign*.

This campaign page, made possible by the generous support of the CareSource foundation, is designed to provide you with tools for learning and sharing about the dangers of K2/Spice.


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Pin them! Print them! Post them at your school or workplace! You'll see these public awareness posters in kiosks across the city, but we need your help to share or post them too. Both posters can be downloaded at the links below.

Download the PDF version here.

Download the PDF version here.


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Understanding K2/Spice


What is K2/Spice?

  • K2 and Spice are the most easily recognized “brand” names that use the same substance—synthetic cannabinoid—as an ingredient.
  • A synthetic cannabinoid is a type of drug which is intended to mimic the effects of the active compound in marijuana, THC.
  • It was first synthesized by a chemistry professor at Clemson University and was known by its chemical designation JWH-018.
  • This chemical can be found in liquid form or crystalline powder form. It is sprayed on dried plant material that mimics the look of marijuana.
  • Over the years, the composition of synthetic cannabinoids has strayed farther and farther from its parent composition such that the effects of each subsequent variation are more unpredictable than the variant that preceded it.
  • Synthetic cannabinoids are capable of delivering catastrophic consequences to its users—even if it’s that person’s very first puff.

Why is K2/Spice a problem?

  • The fact that it has a history of having been sold openly and that it is still “on the market” gives people a false sense of its being a legal and/or safe product.
  • Deliberate messaging promotes synthetic cannabinoids as a safe alternative to marijuana. 
  • While marijuana or any other illicit substance cannot be called a “safe” drug to use, unlike marijuana synthetic cannabinoids are chemically engineered in a lab. Its original composition was dedicated to lab study and never intended to be used in human subjects; and current variants pose a danger due not only to their potency, but also their toxicity, unknown core constituents, clandestine and unregulated production, high degree of potential for abuse and dependence, and for the wide variety of injuries they are known to cause.
  • Its presence persists in part because the people who make it put disclaimers on the packaging meant to circumvent legal consequences (“Not for human consumption;” “Incense”).  Also, in those states where highly specific chemical compositions are used for benchmarking what is considered illegal, manufacturers tweak the molecular structure as a loophole to avoid prosecution.
  • It is marketed to a youth demographic, sold in appealing packaging, and given names which confer a sense brand legitimacy, such as AK-47, Marley Spice, Red Magic, and Scooby Snax. 
  • People who use it have been seriously and permanently injured physically and psychically, up to and including permanent psychosis and death.

What are we (CDPH / Healthy Cleveland) doing about it?

  • CDPH has met with local stakeholders who work directly with those individuals who use synthetic cannabinoids. They have informed us that the problem is pervasive, persistent, and under-reported. CDPH has corroborated this information through looking at data from other objective sources.
  • CareSource Foundation partnered with Healthy Cleveland 2.0 in developing a public information campaign to provide individuals with the facts surrounding K2/Spice’s history, production, sale of, and consequences of using; to warn users and potential users of the clear dangers associated with using synthetic cannabinoids; to serve notice to individuals selling the drug that it is irresponsible to sell drugs and that doing so makes one eligible for criminal charges and imprisonment; and to inform the public that they have the power to anonymously call law enforcement to report persons who they know or reasonably suspect to be selling it.

For more information, please see:

Drug Facts: What are synthetic cannabinoids?
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cannabinoids

Zombie Outbreak!? "Spice" and the Synthetic Cannabinoids
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/psych-unseen/201704/zombie-outbreak-spice-and-the-synthetic-cannabinoids


*The City of Cleveland Department of Public Health’s Healthy Cleveland 2.0 Initiative’s K2/Spice public information campaign was made possible by the generous support of the CareSource Foundation. All campaign assets were created by YOUR STORY ON FILM LLC.