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K2 Outbreak in Lincoln
Last November I wrote an article in our monthly newsletter entitled “The Scary Truth About Synthetic Drugs.” These man-made drugs look much like normal marijuana, however, the lethal compound sprayed on the leaves can cause paranoia, hallucinations, psychosis, and in some cases death. In recent weeks Lincoln, Nebraska has seen over 100 K2 overdoses, leading police to search two local smoke shops and seize more than 1,200 packages of the drug (JournalStar.com). In Bellevue, the drug left a couple unresponsive in their home while their 6-year old and 2-month old were unattended. While the children are currently in custody of the state, the mother, Michaella Davis, gave an interview stating that the couple “Followed the directions that were on the bag and were using it as aromatherapy.” (WOWT.com)
The buying, selling, or using of synthetic marijuana is illegal in Nebraska and carries the same penalties as regular marijuana. However, there are two new bills before the Legislature that would set stronger penalties for K2.
LB326: The passing of LB326 would make any instance of K2 possession a Class IV felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. This bill is sponsored by Sen. Matt Williams of Gothenburg and supported by the state Attorney General’s Office.
LB189: This bill is sponsored by Sen. Al Davis of Hyannis, and would essentially eliminate the second offense for K2 possession, keeping the $300 fine for first offenses then jumping to a Class IV misdemeanor for second or subsequent offenses, punishable by seven days in jail and a $500 fine.
A driving force behind these and previous synthetic drug bills, has been Kali Smith of Bellevue. Smith lost her 18-year old son Tyler to drug. An autopsy done after his death found six large cysts on his brain, which doctors believe were caused from smoking the drug. Tyler took his own life only days after ingesting the cherry flavored “tobacco.”
“We know we’ve made progress, even with the tragic events over the past few weeks,” Senator Beau McCoy said. “We know what we’re doing is helping, but it’s not enough.”
About Jill Sauser, The Kim Foundation Project Coordinator
Jill graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Speech Communication from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2009. During her time at UNO, she completed a two year PR practicum program where she worked with numerous nonprofit clients including the MS Society, The Archdiocese of Omaha, The Omaha Food Bank, and YWCA. Since becoming Project Coordinator at The Kim Foundation in April 2014, she has become an active member of the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition, The Omaha Metro Hoarding Task force, the Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, the Metro Area LOSS Team, and is helping lead a community-wide community health improvement initiative with the Douglas County Health Department called, “Just Reach Out,” which is focused on improving the community’s view on mental and behavioral health treatment.