Synthetic marijuana legal, for sale across SC

Synthetic weed is legal in South Carolina. / FOX Carolina

GREENVILLE (FOX Carolina) -- It's a green, leafy substance that looks like marijuana and it's rolled like it too, but it's not pot; rather, it's synthetic weed.

On the streets it's called Spice, K2 or J.W.H., the initials of a Clemson University professor who created the chemicals used in the product.

"Basically, it's organic material, plant-like material that has chemicals on it to produce similar effects to marijuana," said Greenville County Deputy Matt Smith. He and Master Deputy Mike Decker said smokers take a hit because it produces a high similar to marijuana.

But synthetic weed is legal in South Carolina.

"It does not have THC and you won't pop positive on a drug test for it," Smith said.

Smith and Decker said the problem with the substance is that smoking it can cause erratic behavior.

"In Tennessee it's an illegal substance," Decker said. "In Missouri it's an illegal substance. In the state of Hawaii it's actually a felony."

Spice can be found at head shops, so FOX Carolina went into one and bought a gram of flavored watermelon Spice for $20. The label warns buyers not to smoke the substance and lists it as an herbal incense.

"People are actually dissolving the Spice or K2 in acetone," Decker said. "They'll space it out over blotter paper and ingest it like they used to ingest acid back in the day."

Clemson University professor Dr. John Huffman, known on the streets by users as J.W.H., developed the chemicals while doing research back in the 90s. He said he never intended his formula to be used as a recreational drug.

"There are reports that people have had very highly elevated pulse rates and highly elevated blood pressure from using it," Huffman said.

Huffman said it is not clear how the substance reacts inside the body. Because of that, some believe Spice should be illegal.

Although Spice is legal, detectives said if someone is driving erratically while high on it, that person could be charged with reckless driving if there is paraphernalia found in the car.

(This story courtesy FOX Carolina and