Ted Kirsch statement on K2 exposure

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Statement by Ted Kirsch, AFTPA President
on K2 (synthetic cannabinoids) making their way into prisons and schools

AFT Pennsylvania applauds Governor Tom Wolf for increasing security measures after Department of Corrections employees were sickened by what was may have been accidental exposure to K2, a relatively new, synthetic drug that has gained in popularity the past few years.

K2 – also called Spice – is not only a problem in prisons. It is becoming increasingly popular among school-age and college students because of its reputation as non-addictive, natural or harmless. Made in laboratories, K2 is a mind-altering drug – addictive, unpredictable and dangerous to users and those who work with users. Side effects include damage to the heart, paranoia, depression, hallucinations, panic attacks and violent behavior.

Public employees put their safety at risk in the line of duty every day. It is incumbent on employers, in this case the Commonwealth but also colleges and school districts, to provide employees with information and safety procedures in a timely manner.

As with the opioid crisis, where Governor Wolf was among the first governors in the nation to declare a medical emergency, Pennsylvania reacted swiftly to protect public servants. Inmates in state facilities deserve protection from harmful, addictive substances, too. Pennsylvania must have a long-term strategy to recognize, identify and protect children, inmates, teachers and workers from rapidly developing health threats such as this.

For more information, I urge people to visit the National Institutes of Health website.