NEW YORK – The popular, online site—Craigslist—was getting commended Friday for quickly removing classifieds that advertised sales of dangerous, synthetic marijuana, commonly known as K2.
“As we fight against the K2 epidemic in New York State, Craigslist’s immediate response to remove K2 classifieds helps us to ensure there’s one less source where people can score this dangerous drug,” State Senator, Jeff Klein, said Friday.
Klein and City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, had led the call Thursday to various websites—demanding K2 be kicked off the Internet.
“I have a message for eBay, Craigslist, Backpage and other sites,” Klein said Thursday. “It doesn’t matter if K2 is sold in the corner store or in cyberspace, you need to stop the proliferation of K2 and start policing your websites.”
Klein and Mark –Viverito showed how direct dealers were using the major websites to sell synthetic marijuana—which is marketed as incense or potpourri but sprayed with a chemical cannabinoid to create a high for users.
Popular brands like “Geeked Up,” “Smacked,” Scooby Snax,” and “Bizarro,” were being marketed. The direct dealer sites would show up on major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and Ask.com.
Potential buyers would enter phrases like “Buy K2 Spice,” or “Buy herbal incense.” Sometimes, buyers even googled “Buy synthetic marijuana.”
On Craigslist and Backpage, sellers posted classifieds using keywords like “K2 Spice,” “herbal incense,” and even “legal weed.”
Klein’s investigators were especially disturbed that K2 sellers could even buy pre-branded packaging for “incense bags”—in bulk—on eBay.
In one eBay listing, 1,000 empty, Mylar, “Geeked Up” packages were being sold for $119.95.
The ad claimed the bags were for storing coins, crafts, and jewelry.
But “Geeked Up” happens to be a very popular brand of synthetic marijuana.
Dozens of “Geeked Up” bags were among the packages seized by police in a Jamaica, Queens candy shop last month.
The packs of so-called herbal incense or potpourri are often sold in delis and smoke shops for $5 to $8 a package.
Users then smoke the stuff, sometimes suffering dangerous side effects like seizures or psychotic episodes.
More than 2,000 people have gone to hospitals in New York State since April, after having a bad reaction to new batches of synthetic marijuana they’re getting on the streets—or online.
The NYPD has called the abuse of synthetic marijuana a public health crisis.
Thousands and thousands of calls have been made to poison control centers around the country this year.
Some people are left paralyzed or brain damaged after using the stuff.
Some have died.
Craigslist responded by e-mail to State Senator Klein that it would remove the K2 ads from its public listings.
Melissa Mark-Viverto responded with a statement, saying “This is a plague that targets kids and our most vulnerable New Yorkers. I commend Craigslist for understanding the severity of the situation and I’m hopeful other internet sites will follow suit.”