An illustration of drug-monsters eating brain cells.
Illustration by Tyler Harchelroad

With summer approaching, Street Sense recently interviewed Lieutenant Andrew Struhar of the Metropolitan Police Department to discuss the wave of synthetic drug overdoses that largely afflicted D.C.’s homeless community one year ago. He said that the drug is not gone, but no longer has the same “widespread impact on local society.”  Here’s what our vendors can tell you:


Speaking from Experience

By Charlton Battle

If you are not aware of K2, that’s a very good thing! But it is wise to know as much as you can.

It is a drug. And it does kill. Something very new on the block and very hard to detect, at least in urine samples. But we’ve found a way to start detecting it in the lab.

K2—also know as Spice, Scooby Snax and other names—is a mixture of shredded plants, herbs and spices that is sprayed with a compound of chemicals. The chemicals are so far advanced that it has been undetectable for years.

I’m told that kids in college invented this billion dollar killer. Yes, killer. It has been known to cause plenty of deaths.

I’m writing because of my experience with K2 back in 2012. I ran across it in the halfway house at the time. The young and older guys were smoking it without fear of the law at the time. Some guys were even openly telling people that they were getting high, even telling their probation officers and in drug meetings. They just didn’t have to worry about a violation at the time. You could get it at most gas stations and it was pretty cheap.

So yes, my curiosity got the best of me. They made it look so good – going to work and everything. At my job is where I tried it for the first time. I didn’t take but two puffs before I got so afraid that I almost panicked and went to the hospital. The guys tried to hide me, but they couldn’t. I don’t even know how I got paid. My function was so poor that they knew immediately that something was wrong with me and that I was under the influence of something. I had worked so hard that morning that the boss gave me a pass. He didn’t call the police, he was just very disappointed. Before that, he’d been ready to put me in charge of the laborers.

After saying I never again would touch the stuff and swearing by Allah on it, that night I tried it again. When I was released from the halfway house, weeks later, I brought it home with me and introduced it to my family and friends.

The first high makes you so paranoid, but after that you are aware of how to control it. It’s very addictive and very foolish for anyone that uses it.

I haven’t seen or heard of anyone who enjoyed the first high. Your mind and body don’t know how to react to this foreign substance. So it puts fear first, then rejection. My theory is that there is so much going on in your life that you just don’t care about where it takes you. Who needs to get high if you’ve got good things going on?

When your future doesn’t look good to you or you have low-self esteem, it’s easy to become addicted to K2.  Very cheap and very high.

We were addicted to crack at the time, and thought that K2 would steer us away from it. But we quickly realized that now, we had two addictions. So eventually we decided to see if we could stop. And only by the grace of Allah – we haven’t been on that trip of K2 since.

I have friends and family in North Carolina and I made sure to find out if they were using this terrible drug. Most of them, young and old alike, couldn’t find it. Some had heard of it, but chose to deal with weed instead.

There’s not too much more to say except to STAY AWAY FROM K2. IT’S NOT FOR YOU.


A Real Killer

By Kanell Washington

Smoking K2 will destroy parts of your mind and eat your brain cells, too. “Scooby Snax” states “not for human consumption” because you may not make it back. It’s not for us to eat, smoke or ingest into our body.

Yet now, there is one stronger called the “the pack,” or “VA Pack.” They say this one really messes up one’s self or actions. The words “take me away” should be printed on each pack.

Yes, the stuff is a killer. Let’s call it “Bodies” or “187.”  So many of my friends have taken themselves out, or away, by putting this stuff in their bodies.

The blind in mind understand what it says on “the pack” and close their minds to the danger. What this thing really is should be put on each pack: a killer.


A New Epidemic

By Anonymous

Are we seeing a repeat of the crack epidemic of the ‘80s and ‘90s?  Salt and Pepper, Kisha Cole: two of the newest names of the dangerous and deadly synthetic drug K2.

The crack epidemic of the ‘80s and ‘90s was one of the darkest times for our city. The murder and crime rates skyrocketed, the city was out of control. Now there’s a new drug that’s taking over: K2. As I travel through the city, I  see people walking around smoking this dangerous drug like it’s just a cigarette — with no regard for the law.

Believe it or not, this drug does not just affect our homeless community. It affects our community as a whole. There are K2 drug strips all over the city now. But what disturbs me the most is that the users are getting so young. While traveling past one of the shelters, I watched three young juveniles walk past and ask, “Who got that Salt?”

That was the first time that I had heard of Salt and Pepper. I knew that K2 had different names, but I was dumbfounded to learn yet another one. Later I found out that it was one of the newest strains. My understanding is that when new ones like Salt and Pepper and Kisha Cole hit the market, they are the most popular because they are the most potent.

They can also cause you to “fall out,” or overdose. As I noticed firsthand that day, many of the people around the shelter looked like they were in a daze — zombie-like. Those were just the effects of K2. This is a serious problem in our city as well as others. I know at least one person who has supposedly died from it. If we don’t get control of this drug, we could be facing another epidemic.


Let’s Nip This in the Bud

By Anonymous

Do we, as a city and community, want to wait until harmful criminal activity is out of control? The K2/Molly same ‘ol other drug proclivities has become creepily seepingly present around the DMV area. We see it, smell the strange odor and read about the deathly consequences in the news.

Inklings, observations, and purposeful blind eye avoidance are blended with thoughts of “innocent until proven guilty” and hopes that the police will intervene eventually. All of this is called the ultimate, out-and-out denial.

Bicyclists have been seen pedaling and smoking the funny cigs that churn out unwanted strange fumes inhaled by innocent pedestrians, including tiny tots promenading with their protective daytime care workers.

The biggest shock I heard about was when someone I know accompanied a special person to a store and they wanted to buy a bag of flavored cigarettes packaged in a gummy bear size foil with anime on the cover. Fortunately, the acquisition was successfully discouraged. The horror hit them when they visited the community meeting room at a police station. The same packaging was posted on the board with a warning poster informing the reader that these falsely advertised cigarettes sold in stores were dangerous substances that would kill you, addict you and wreck your life.

We saw on TV that persons from the shelters who bought them are suffering and dying. Insult to injury, these products are reportedly manufactured in China and were legally distributed in the USA.

This is reminiscent of the 1990’s, a time when youth would not consider making summer time money cutting grass, running errands and doing odd jobs.  Some were reported as saying they made more money by being a watch out, money bag carrier or as a package delivery transporter.

The real concern is protecting ourselves and of particular concern our youth and our mentally disabled from the vulnerabilities, manipulations and deceptions of drug trade entrapment.

As a city, we must nip this in the bud.

Do not let the summer come with idleness, ignorance and opportunity for young people to sell misery, addiction and death. We cannot allow a return to the epidemic of before.

Ignorance is not bliss and neither is minding your own business!


Ban. Synthetic. Drugs.

By Susan Wilshusen

There has been a recent influx of synthetic drugs, such as K-2 and fentanyl, which have the potential to cause brain-damaging effects. This is happening during a time of unprecedented budget deficits, trade deficits, unprecedented worldwide destabilization and recent shootings.

The potential for people to give in to rioting or protests is a danger exacerbated by use of synthetic drugs, which further destabilization and suffering.

I ask the Department of Justice and other agencies to remove synthetic drugs from the social landscape