Synthetic weed's demonization in the media continues—harsh! Already despised by Senator Schumer and blamed for everything from teen suicides to hospital visits, the totally legal "incense" today gets the front page treatment from the Daily News in a "STORY EVERY PARENT SHOULD READ." Oh noes! Just one puff and your spawn will turn into the (fictional) narrator in Go Ask Alice.

So, quick refresher! For the last few years a number of products posing as incense have been popping up and quickly selling out to tweens and tweakers in convenience stores across the country. Sold with names like "K2," "Atomic Bomb" and the like the "novelty collector's items" clearly say they are not to be smoked... and yet are being smoked left and right. The main logic being that you do get a (brief) buzz from smoking it and, hey, its legal! Just think about that time you tried smoking salvia, and you get the idea. As it has grown in popularity, however, fake bud has also gotten itself a bad rap. Coast Guard cadets have been expelled over it and kids have been blaming it on their freakouts. The News helpfully provides a breakdown of the three biggest incidents:

  • Last week, a 17-year-old who was reportedly high on it fatally stabbed a sleeping schoolmate, Jasmyn Tully, 17, in Washington State because he felt “an urge to hurt someone,” authorities said.

  • Last June, Max Dober, 19, was killed after he bought Aroma at an Illinois mall and crashed his car into a house at 100 mph.

  • In June 2010, Iowa teen David Mitchell Rozga, 18, committed suicide in a frenzy of anxiety that his parents believe was triggered by K2.


Whether or not the fake weed can be blamed for those incidents, we don't know. We do know that the News makes one legitimate point, one that Schumer has been harping on for awhile now, that legal or not, synthetic marijuana is increasingly showing up in hospital reports: "In the city, the first four cases were reported to the Health Department’s poison control center in 2010. There were 71 in 2011, and 44 more so far this year. Fifty-seven people have ended up in the emergency room in the past 12 months because of the synthetic pot."

But does every parent really need to read that story in the News? No. Not at all. Look, if you are a parent you should talk to your kids about drugs. All of them, legal and illegal. Because they all are going to come up. But if you start freaking out and checking their underwear drawers for incense because a tabloid tells you that your kid is probably hopped up on the stuff...well, you are probably going to inspire them to give the potpourri a puff.

Meanwhile, if you are just horrified at the idea of this "synthetic weed" corrupting our youth, we've got good news for you. Our lawmakers and government agencies are hard at work trying to find a way to make sure it disappears from our store shelves. "In Washington, Schumer and his Senate colleagues are pressing fellow Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to pass the David Mitchell Rozga Act to make all forms of synthetic marijuana illegal."