K2 in the Workplace Goes Undetected

Many employers and court officers require routine drug testing to ensure that employees are staying drug-free and healthy. However, one drug has become increasingly common over the past few years and it’s flying under the radar. K2 synthetic marijuana is not usually detected on a traditional drug test. Test Smartly Labs explains why:

What is K2?

K2 is marketed as an “herbal incense,” but it is a synthetic drug filled with deadly chemicals like JWH-018 and JWH-073. These chemicals act in place of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical compound that is found in marijuana. As more people learned about the substance (also known as “spice” and “fake pot”), it grew in popularity as a legal alternative to pot. K2 is so widely accepted that it has been sold in convenience stores and gas stations. Many states have acted quickly to ban the substance. However, K2 is still accessible and widely-used.


Officers and employers typically use a Basic 5 Panel UA to test for drugs. Unfortunately, this test does not detect synthetic substances like K2. It detects:

  • THC
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Amphetamine
  • Opiates

Since K2 does not contain THC, it uses other chemicals to imitate the effects of pot by acting on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. K2 doesn’t show up on typical drug tests because it doesn’t utilize THC to get people high.

Signs and Symptoms

More people are using K2 as a pot alternative. The harsh chemicals in K2 can cause serious reactions. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of someone who may be using K2. According to K2’s creator, John Huffman, the ingredients in K2 are up to 10 times more active than THC. The synthetic cannabinoids that are mixed into the K2 compound can cause severe side effects including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hallucinations
  • Dizziness
  • Red eyes

Employers and probation officers have an obligation to protect the community and keep its members safe. The more you understand the symptoms and risks behind K2, the better you can recognize the signs and stop usage in its tracks. Test Smartly Labs knows the dangers of using K2 are serious and offers tests for this synthetic alternative to marijuana.

If your company is in need of a reliable drug testing program, call (816) 800-9699 today or contact Test Smartly Labs today. We provide confidential appointments at any of our 5 greater Kansas City area locations.

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