tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera March 12, 2016 1:00am-1:31am EST
to school with you. >> i wish you could do it again one day. >> reporter: okay. lisa fletcher, al jazeera, west bend, wisconsin. >> that's "america tonight." it's the new high you can buy at the corner store. america's heroin epidemic is not this country's only drug problem despite the impression you might get listening to presidential candidates. there is another newer drug plaguing america that goes by street names of k 2, spice, skooby snacks and green giant. they are
synthetic can canabinoids. there are important differences k-2 is a fraction of the cost of marijuana, it's often sold illegal in stores as ininsense. in incense. while k-2 overdoses don't often kill users like heroin does, smoking the drug can definitely turn people into what law enforcement officials call people zombies, it makes some people very sick. since 2015 there have been more than 6,000 k 2 emergency room visits, in new york city.
people using k 2 have been brought in for everything from seizures to psychosis. homeless people account for most of new york's k 2 users but it has been growing in popularity in american teenl teenagers. makes it the second most frequently used illegal drug among u.s. teens after marijuana. and drug moarmt officials say th enforcement officialssay the amg into the united states, some community groups say america is simply repeating the mistakes made during the country's original war on drugs. whatever your view is, it's undeniable, that k-2 is creating problems in cities like dallas, louisville, and oklahoma city, here is a terrible look at what k-2 is taking here on the
streets of new york. k 2 or spice, as it's called up, a combination of all these things wrapped up in one. >> it's potpourri sprayed with a little chemical. a little acid test. >> omg, oh my god. a marijuana high weed high with crack addiction. >> it is absolutely absurd. i watch these people die. >> third world country. >> k 2 is something that is uncontrol annal to a person that uses it. they have to do is just stop. and it's very, very very, very
complicated for them to stop. >> this is my personal account of my experience smoking k2. rule number 1 if you haven't smoked k2 don't start. in the summer of 2011 i had a fight with my mom and i took a walk down the block and i found a bag on the sidewalk. this stuff called deja vu. and i said this is that fake stuff from the deli, i didn't buy into it at first, i couldn't believe anything you got out of a deli got you high. i pack a bowl of it i smoke some of it, i was three blocks away and couldn't find myself home. i was totally totally wasted. why should i spend my money on weed, if can i go in the deli and get so high. i was deeply addicted to it.
within a week or two i know i can't stop smoking this stuff. it got to the point that i lost about 90 pounds smoke k2. it caused suicidal ideation. i'm addicted to a drug i don't like anymore. >> an alert from the nypd, about a highly dangerous synthetic drug known as k2. >> nearly 2,000 people were admitted to hospitals in new york state after taking the substance. >> we saw nearly a dozen people smoking the drug right in front of us. the people smoking it experience extreme lows and highs. >> spice, lucy, actually marketed as incense or potpourri. >> used by high school seniors more than any other drug besides
marijuana and those colorful logos and the flavors such as lime and strawberry are specifically targeted to teens. >> starting to see k2 cases in the early part of the summer and many of them just came in they were brought in by ems and many of them were very violent, they were agitated, some were sleepy but it was unclear as to what was triggering this. at one point three or four of them were delivered to us and there was something that we hadn't been seeing. this civility is not marijuana at all. these compounds are made in the laboratory and they do have effects similar to marijuana thc but effects can be variable. seizures, psychotic behavior that we see some people that develop chest pain that also have stroke-like symptoms. we have seen people that have had prolonged seizures. normally a seizure lasts for a minute or two, sometimes this
seizure lasts for an hour or two. the effect of the seizure can be devastating and life change, no oxygen delivered to the brain. >> you have no idea what you are injessing. russian roulette when you buy a package of this stuff. synthetic canabinoids, in 2015 we seized five times what we seized in 2014. in 2014 we seized three times as much as we did the previous year. >> nearly $50 million in assets. >> vation majorit >> the vast majority of all synthetic cannabinoids come from
china. they put tonight packages, not are for human consumption. but that is in fact what they are for. >> certified for laboratory analysis. >> k2 is very profitable. a $700,000 investment would bring probably two to $300,000 back ton street. several dea investigations found traced back to the middle east, syria, jordan, yemen, the fear is that it could be used to fund terrorism. >> as soon as we schedule it, as soon as we make these things illegal, criminal organizations will go back and change one molecule, one, one molecule and it changes the entire drug. it changes the whole structure of the drug so the drug becomes legal and we're at it again and that's dynamic of what we're faced with.
this synthetic drug business is a new frontier for de arrangement, a new frontier for drug enforcement. >> there is a lot of fear mongering and hysteria that is played out in the press that people are not seeing in the day-to-day harm reduction world. >> guys we are here today because we want to end the war on drugs and mass incarceration. >> we know we have a legacy of drugs. >> it is an all out city war. >> we will go wherever crack is being sold. >> crulzin criminalizing and stigmatizing, we want to be very up front about avoiding that and making sure we're taking another approach. >> we're getting k2 off of our streets and out of the hands of
drug abusers. if you possess k-2 with the sphwent to sell it or if you sell k2 you are now going to come up against greatest police force in the world. semg k2 will be a misdemeanor punish annal with up to one dwreer in prison. these laws together seend clear together send a clear message, if you sell this poison we will find you. >> in new york city they were very explicit about not wanting to target people who use k2. however we are so wary about the fact that criminalizing drugs have never worked in the fact of reducing use. >> they have done nothing to effect the supply of synthetic cannabinoids. they will be on the black market instead of the gray market. the way in which people will buy it will be more dangerous, no
tax money collected from those is alleys. even less what you are getting. >> now that there are less bo bow bodegas selling it there is still no inpatient treatment for k2. how i got off k2. unfortunately, the k2 addict is pretty much on his own. no hospital will admit psychiatrically a k2 user. that means you have to self-taper, wean in other words. this is not easy. it basically means that you only smoke when you feel sick a small amount. that means being miserable for a few weeks. >> we know how to treat adecision based on opiates and
cocaine the effects of these drugs but synthetics are unknown. because of that there is no regular treatment plan and i think that's really the troubling aspect of this whole epidemic that we're seeing, a whole population of people that really have no follow-up care. there needs to be more research really at the most basic level into how we can develop alternative therapies that will help people who are addicted to these substances. >> don't. don't do it. it's not worth it. don't go back to k2. it's emotionally isolating. it alienates and repulses others and it is basically self-punishment. that's it. >> coming up a radical way to fight the k2 epidemic. why some say legalized marijuana might be the answer.
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drug called k2 has hit the streets and law enforcement and medical officials are caught off guard by the drug's growing popularity. k2 is a be class noaf class known as synthetic cannabinoids. it's still a visible problem in neighborhoods around the city . rafael be espinel joins us. councilmember, thank you for being with me. >> thank you for inviting us. >> how difficult is this problem? >> especially in bed sty, i'm glad we came together with the administration to figure out ways to alleviate the problem. >> as we illustrated in the story it's sort of hard to create a ban on a drug that
keeps on changing and defies law. so from an enforceability perspective, is what new york city and the state has done is it going to work? >> so far it has been working. you know, we are attacking the panging right? it promotes itself being potpourri or synthetic marijuana. we know away it is. we target the delis where we have ee seen these so-called zombies hanging outs. they can revoke a license of a establishment selling k 2. the city would have the right to shut down the establishment. >> have you seen the effects on these dellis? >> they have not too long ago seen the problem begin ofade away, they are not seeing as many people ton streets on k2, it's had the same amount of impact. >> drugs being what they are,
are you concerned that this method of going through the delis going through the corner stores really for everybody else in the world, are you concerned that that's going to just cause this to become distributed some other way? >> yeah, that's always a concern which is also why we made it illegal to manufacture or distribute it. if you are caught selling k2 on the street you're going to face a $5,000 fine and one year in prison. you're facing consequences. >> the peopl people we talked to, said it's not meant to criminalize the user, they are aware that criminalizing drugs hasn't been successful in the past and going to lead to the same sort of thing, people in jail, people's lives being destroyed rather than fixing the outcomes which would be more economically and socially effective.
>> people seeking drugs may be because of emotional or mental health issue. we need to address that problem. again if they didn't have access to the drug they wouldn't be using the drug. we find it's important to go to the distributors before we can focus on how we attack the problem with the user. >> the evolution of drugs and fighting them in new york city and many cities has been various kinds of opioids and marijuana moving into cocaine and then crack. then heroin. now we're seeing k2 and olot of people are argue that if you legalized marijuana which certainly has less studies indicate has less harmful effects than k2 does you give people something to get their high and they won't go onto this stuff, do you agree with that view? >> i totally agree. one of the gentlemen in the video stated that k2 started off
with a marijuana high, we know marijuana is safe and doesn't cause people to end up in emergency rooms, i think the problem would be less of a problem in the city. so we should look at legalizing marijuana, other states have done it, it's working in other states, let's make sure it gets done in new york city. >> even though people are more socially liberal than in other places, there is still a block to letting people off the hook, new york city has taken a hard line on speeding in the streets, we will catch people, we will stop them. york. there are people that say you can't make these things legal. we did a story on safe injection sites for heroin. there are a lot of people who believe in needle exchange programs, but you're up against something when you say let's make marijuana legal because it's not something you want your kids
smoking. >> we're up against stigma but we're not concentrating on the problem. no matter what we do, people are going to try access the drug. we want to make sure when they do use it they're placed in a safe environment. we have to step away from that antiquated mindset and think of ways to help the issue or help these people that are suffering from the drug problems. >> that's the issue, poverty mental illness and addiction. have you gotten much traction? why not dedicate a lot more resources than the city dedicating when it combs to homeless, the population i do some volunteer work with, none of them want to be in there, dangerous places where you're more likely to get addicted to drugs than get off them. poverty, mental illness drug use are wrucial
usually tied. >> people do have mental health issues. we need to direct our resources towards that direction. the first lady of new york city actually started a program to help teens and younger individuals who are having those issues. we're trying to come together and figure out the proper way to take action. i look forward to the next months and years ahead to finally come up with a plan to come up with solutions. >> rafael espinale, city council member from new york city, thank you for being here. thank you for having me. >> a man who sees the beauty of it all, coming up. >>it's crazy money that you can make here. it's a ticking time bomb. >>do you know what chemicals have been in that tank?
>> mired in corruption and bankruptcy, detroit is a vibrant yet struggling city. the most obvious is blight. home to the america's working class, 80,000 buildings almost a fifth of the structures in the city are now home to squatters and hot beds of crime and violence. it doesn't paint a pretty picture but one man sees beauty among the burned out ruins.
tony mica, a detroit native. who spends a lot of time taking pictures of his city's decay and distress. >> i'm tony mica, people might know me as tony detroit. as of right now i have more than 350,000 followers on instagram. the pictures i post of detroit are basically pictures that i see everyday just being a detroiter. old architecture, homeless people, abandoned buildings, burned out buildings. when i walk out the front door it's really different than any other city. big city in america i believe. in the sense that even on a saturday night, it's pretty desolate. looking through my instagram account, you can pull up pictures of many different areas of the city. here's one from southwest detroit.
a lot of the houses look as if it was abruptly abandoned, clothes in the drawers, food in the refrigerator, one of my favorite interior abandoned houses. also there's the abandoned brewster projects, the brewster projects was opened in 1935. that was the first low income housing in the country. the history is still here. smoky robinson played basketball here, he lived here, lily tomlin, aretha franklin, mo motown. a lot of gangs, which is why they're tearing it down. ecosystem that comes from a bloody community is firstly drugs. we are on the east side of detroit, on euclid street,
pretty much run over with crips. they are either boarded up burned down or, whoa, hold on bumpy ride or turned into drug houses. i don't think anybody livers on this block whatsoever. which is why the road is in disrepair. kind of okay, oh damn it, this is not good, the people in the doorway, okay. it's one of the most dangerous areas of the city. the street of hollywood, on the east side of detroit, appeals to me more so than any other street in the city. because of the abandoned houses on this block. you can tell, it's such heart and sow soul that was put into the making ever it. just left to rot, we are on the house on euclid
street, on euclid and brush. it's been my favorite to shoot because of the architecture of it. anybody home? hello? the first thing you want to do when you go into an abandoned building, you want to announce yourself, you don't want to startle anyone. a baby's toy, very seldom will i move an object. detroit has changed me. and for people who say oh, i only attractive the negative of detroit, i beg to differ. i think i show the world that hey, look at me. give me some help. come at me all you want. but detroit is my life, my love. and i will never, ever talk bad about her. >> this story originally aired in 2013. tony now has over 400,000 followers on instagrams. he still documents abandoned buildings in drought but has
expanded his work to others be places arld th around the world. the news continues here on al jazeera america. ♪ ♪ >> five years ago, the earth shook and a tidal wave stormed ashore on japan's coast. ability of a coastal power plant to withstand a tsunami made much worse. adding fukushima to three mile island or chernobyl and stopping or stalling nuclear projects in many places. we'll