New laws that go into effect on September 1 aim to slow down K2 consumption in Texas.
UMC Brackenridge's VP of Medical Affairs Dr. Tom Caven overseas the medical team at the hospital, including the ER. He says the K2 drug is dangerous.
"This is such a toxic drug to start with that the people who are selling it apparently feel comfortable adding any kind of industrial chemical to it," said Caven.
UMC Brackenridge is the only level 1 adult trauma facility in Central Texas. So the spike in K2 cases has become a concern.
"It's important from a public health standpoint because we are literally jamming up the gears that we need to to take care of patients here," Dr. Caven says, adding, "because if it's taking 2-3 nurses and a doctor to take a care of a patient while they are in a hyper agitated state, that's a lot of other patients they can't be taking care of."
Usage of the drug across the state is on the rise, too. Last week, police outside of Dallas seized two hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of K2. The alleged dealers were also busted.
"I think people feel like this is a problem for the homeless population it's really not," said Caven. "It's spilling over to all strata's of society and we're seeing it in up to 11% of high school students in the U.S."
Lawmakers are looking to put a stop to the drug's rapid growth. This legislative session they widened the scope of illegal chemicals that make up the drug. But Caven says it won't be hard for it's manufacturers to get around that.
"They can change this drug fast enough that you can't pass a law against that chemical compound fast enough to have it illegal, so they've changed it by the time you pass a law about it," Caven said.
Another new law, also going into effect on September first, could help fill that gap. It will now be illegal to market and sell synthetic marijuana (like K2 and Spice) as an herbal product or an incense.
"We don't know yet how the law is going to stand up or how these cases will get prosecuted but I think it will slow the trade down and right now we need something to slow this down because it's been an epidemic this summer."