Tomoka Correctional Institution Work Camp in Florida is faced with a drug epidemic that’s causing its inmates to display strange, zombie-like behaviors. The drug is called K2 or Spice, and is a form a synthetic marijuana that aims to produce the same high as cannabis, but with additional negative side-effects and the possibility of a dangerous overdose.
K2 is the drug that became notorious when “70 people overdosed in 24 hours in New Haven, Conn., home of Yale University,” on Wednesday, August 15.
Marijuana causes a high due to its naturally occurring THC, which synthetic marijuana attempts to recreate. Unlike regular cannabis, however, the chemicals that go into “synthetic marijuana can cause aggressive behavior, hallucinations, heart attacks, seizures…and death.”
— Health News Florida (@HealthNewsFL) August 22, 2018
A Tomoka prisoner named Raimundo talked to the Miami Herald about the widespread effects of the drug:
Red-eyed inmates shuffle in to get their dinner and sit down to eat, uncoordinated limbs struggling to place food in their mouths. Frequently, he said, someone “falls out,” common vernacular for an overdose. The inmate might faceplant unconscious into his food tray, or slip from his seat, foaming at the mouth, twitching, all of his muscles seizing.
And how does the prison react?
Everybody thinks it’s funny.
Unlless Florida is offering chemistry classes in prison there is a major problem of smuggling of K2 to the inmates shakedowns were regular at TDC in the 70s apparently the staff and upper management are very lax a full outside investigation is warranted
— Laurence Nye (@LaurenceNye3) August 21, 2018
2018 is on track to become the deadliest year in Florida prison history, continuing a trend of increasing accidental deaths, most of which are drug-related.
btw if you ever stumble across articles that reference the terrible “Spice problem” in UK prisons, this is what it’s talking about.
demon substance so it is
— niceguyrichy (@niceguyrichy) August 22, 2018
Dr. Tegan Boehmer of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health describes why synthetic marijuana, which is often concocted using recipes that include roach spray or rat poison, is so dangerous:
There are dozens of different chemicals that are used as synthetic cannabinoids. They are very dangerous because there are a lot of unknowns.
Florida Panhandle: Synthetic #cannabinoids were involved in 75% of all non-natural or suicide deaths in area prisons. In three area prison complexes there was an increase in prison inmate deaths from 6 in 2016 to 27 in 2017. #Spice #K2
Via @pnj https://t.co/P6Vkzucyyf
— NDEWS (@NDEWSNews) June 19, 2018
The problem has become so rampant among Florida prisons that the Florida Department of Corrections created a PSA that is now required viewing for all inmates.
I will put my ignorance on full display here and ask this question: how the hell does synthetic marijuana get into a prison?!?
— Peter Motzenbecker (@petermotz) August 22, 2018
Raimundo says inmates turn to the drug out of sheer boredom:
There’s absolutely nothing to do except get high.
With very few activities available to the inmates, they’ll turn to drugs simply to pass the time, and K2 is a substance of choice because it doesn’t appear on urine tests. Use of regular marijuana can be punishable by “a disciplinary report, confinement (a form of isolation), loss of gain time, and even loss of visitation.”
@skysarahjane #hmpbirmingham the prison system needs more drastic change. Inmates have very little purposeful activity let alone rehabilitation and are sometimes locked up for more than 20hrs a day in many prisons so they resort to drugs and violence to relieve the boredom
— Cassandra Donovan (@CassDonovan) August 20, 2018
Users can develop a dependence on the substance, and discontinuing use can result in withdrawal symptoms strong enough to warrant hospitalization.
One inmate, Jesse, frequently posts about K2 from his Instagram, @FloridaPrisonLivingWithJesse:
Glady, a prison system spokeswoman, commented:
The department is using every tool available to prevent contraband from entering the institution and educating on the dangers of contraband.
Let’s hope they make progress soon. People’s lives depend on it.