Last September, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito declared East Harlem the "epicenter" of NYC's K2 crisis, following a frenzy of tabloid reportage on the sale and abuse of the drug: a highly-addictive and inexpensive mixture of potpourri and chemicals that, until recently, was sold freely behind the counter at neighborhood bodegas.
Today, she and Mayor de Blasio, along with representatives from this City's Health Department, declared that crisis essentially squashed. "This harmful drug has no place on our streets," Mark-Viverito stated. "I thank the City for working with us to end the K2 epidemic."
According to the Mayor's office, K2-related hospitalizations have decreased 85% since July 2015, when the City took the drug to task—from 1,200 cases at peak to about 180 this March.
(via Mayor's Office).
Sold alternatively as spice, rocks and AK-47 (according to one poster designed by the City), K2 is a mixture of chemical-sprayed leaves, often imported from China. It's been linked to strokes and erratic behavior, and has been ruled the cause of at least one death in NYC.
The war against K2, punctuated by PSAs and press conferences, has been lengthy. The drug solicited an early warning from Governor Cuomo last April, after 160 people were hospitalized for likely overdoses in a single month. Since then, the Feds have detailed how the stuff gets made, and lifted 2 million packets from a Bronx garage in one go. A former K2 addict came forward to recount her smoke parties, and some level-headed City Council members suggested that people might stop smoking fake, deadly "synthetic marijuana" if the real thing were simply decriminalized (we're still waiting for the final word on that one).
Sale and production of the drug was ultimately criminalized in October, but not before the City deemed it "weaponized," and blasted a demonstrative video of a naked man tearing through a fence with his bare hands, which turned out to be clipped from an episode of COPS shot in Des Moines, depicting the effects of PCP (a discrepancy the NYPD later defended).
"The City remains committed to eliminating any remnants of K2 sales," said Elizabeth Glazer, director of the Mayor's Criminal Justice office, on Tuesday. In the meantime, the logical conclusion of all this reminiscing is this last, sweet reminder of simpler times.