Nick Mathison leans over the glass display cases at Trader's Smoke Shop in Peoria and spreads a pile of flaky green herbs across the counter.

"I smoked some of this one night when I was watching a movie," he says, tucking tufts of his red hair under a black baseball cap. "And this really warm feeling started at the top of my scalp and just slowly moved down my face and head. I was on the edge of my seat watching this movie, but I felt really, really mellow. And all it took was one hit."

The herb on the counter resembles sage mixed with crumbled marijuana, but it's fuzzier and fluffier, filled with tiny brown hairs and minuscule crystals. It smells like dry leaves and black licorice and it's being sold in head shops all over the Valley as an "herbal incense blend" meant to be burned for aromatherapy.

Weeded out: Fake pot has a potent new competitor.
Jamie Peachey
Weeded out: Fake pot has a potent new competitor.

But people have been smoking it in joints and pipes to get high.

Most of these grassy-looking incense blends, which come in a variety of brands and scents, contain a relatively new synthetic compound called JWH-018. Few studies have been published on the substance — which is legal (for now, anyway) in the U.S. — but recent DEA research indicates it may have the same effect as cannabis (marijuana). And this has made it very popular in Phoenix.

Local smoke shop owners say these "legal herb" incense products, often packaged in one-gram foil packets and sold for $25 to $45 each, are flying off shelves.

"This stuff has been around for years, but it's been very underground," Tim Martin, owner of West Valley smoke shop Herb N Legend, says. "The trend has just exploded in the last 60 days. People are buying a lot of this stuff."

And they're stealing it, too. Trader's Smoke Shop was robbed twice last year, first in early October and again in mid-November. Mathison, the store's manager, says the thieves were selective — they mainly cleaned out the store's three shelves of herbal incense. Last month, the Kind Connection Tattoo and Smoke Shop in Flagstaff was robbed for $300 worth of Spice Gold, one of the more popular herbal incense blends.

Mathison says he works hard to keep this new "legal herb" incense in stock. "Some people come in and buy several bags at once, and they get mad if you're out of their brand," he says. "It's like they're jonesing for it."


"Fake weed" isn't a new concept — companies like California-based International Oddities have been making imitation cannabis buds from herbs like lettuce, catnip, and damiana for two decades, packaging them in plastic tubes and selling them as legal smoke blends named after real strains of potent marijuana, such as "Hydro," "Inda-Kind," or "Thai Stix."

Although these products look like top-class marijuana buds and are advertised as "euphoric smoking experiences," they won't get smokers high, even if you blaze an ounce in one sitting. That's because none of them contains traces of tetrahydrocannibanol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, or any other known psychoactive ingredient, for that matter.

But the herbal incense blends that have hit the market in the past year are different. For one, they're not marketed as something to smoke. Every package specifically states they're to be used for incense or aromatherapy and are "not for human consumption." But the biggest difference is that these incense blends, with names like Pep-Pourri, Serenity Now, and Puff, contain the synthetic chemical compound JWH-018. Most mock pot blends sold as alternative smokes do not.

And the JWH-018 is what's getting people stoned. Though it's used almost exclusively as an ingredient in herbal incense now, it was first developed in 1995 for research, by organic chemist John W. Huffman at Clemson University in South Carolina. He created a chemical compound to try and find cannabinoid receptors in the brain — the parts that THC in marijuana bond with to produce feelings of euphoria — and research shows he was successful.

Christian Steup, a medical doctor and pharmacist at Frankfurt, Germany-based THC Pharm, which makes medicines from marijuana, told Chemistry World that JWH-018 is "four to five times more potent than tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC."

Unlike Salvia divinorum, a psychoactive, organic sage plant used in religious ceremonies by Aztec shamans and now packaged and sold to head shops, JWH-018 is entirely synthetic. The effects are also different: People who smoke Salvia may hallucinate or experience spiritual trances; people who smoke JWH-018 claim it replicates a marijuana high: light-headedness or warm-headedness, a feeling of relaxation, even the munchies.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration conducted a study on JWH-018 in 2009. The resulting report noted the lack of published research on the substance to date, and described four DEA "behavioral pharmacology studies" in which animals were given JWH-018.

"In mice, it decreases overall activity, produces analgesia, decreases body temperature, and produces catalepsy [rigid muscles]," the report states. "JWH-018's activity in all four tests suggests that it is likely to have THC-like psychoactive effects in humans."

In other words, smoking JWH-018 will probably have the same effect as smoking marijuana. And it's perfectly legal.


Of course, you're not supposed to smoke herbal incense blends that contain JWH-018. Just as many head shop owners insist their bongs and pipes are for "tobacco use only," they try to watch their language when discussing herbal incense.

Asked if he's ever smoked any himself, Herb N Legend owner Tim Martin grins and replies, "I've burned it. It's supposed to be an incense, so I really can't discuss the effects of smoking it."

"It's like if I'm selling spray paint at Home Depot," Nick Mathison explains. "I'm selling it to you as paint — now, if you go outside and huff it, that's beyond my control. Well, I'm selling these products as incense. I can't control what people do with them when they get home."

But the government could. JWH-018 has already been banned in nine countries for its alleged psychoactive effects and health risks, starting with Australia in December 2008 and just last month in Russia and Belarus.

Lawmakers in the U.K. and Canada have classified JWH-018 as a "schedule II" or "class B" drug, which puts it in the same category as cannabis and marijuana derivatives. The chief medical officer of the Russian Federation found that JWH-018 has "psychotropic, narcotic effects, contain poisonous components, and represent potential threat for humans."

The DEA has classified JWH-018 as a "drug and chemical of concern," but it is not currently federally controlled under the Controlled Substances Act and is not illegal in any U.S. state — though lawmakers in Kansas are currently considering a bill that would ban it.

Some proponents of legal herb worry about spreading the word that people can legally get high by smoking "incense" containing JWH-018.

"Right now, it's legal, but the government's going to do what it always does," Martin says. "Once they find out people are getting high off something, they'll ban it. But you know what? Somewhere, somebody's already working on the next big thing."

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27 comments
mikes1992
mikes1992

having CBD (Cannabidiol) in cannabis reduces the likelihood of bad experiences and protects you from developing mental illnesses from the THC... while it does counteract the effects and makes it a bit weaker it also makes a more stable and pleasurable high. CBD can also be used to treat mental illness (THC isn't really useful for this) and can even be used for schizophrenia. This drug was synthesized to replicate the effects of THC which makes it an unstable, untested substance interacting directly with your brian! from what I read It was synthesized more for learning how cannabinoids are interacting with the brain and possibly further increase our (or humanity's) understanding of neurology and cannabinoids (I definitely wouldn't say it was a viable alternative). Cannabis should not be ignored in neurology... Cannabinoids are a god send for treating mental illness! there's hundreds and they are all unique and have different interactions. You can even make medicines with no obvious side effects (AKA getting high) if you know what cannabinoids you're extracting. There isn't really any effective treatments for mental health problems (like depression) and most have serious risks (like inducing suicidal thoughts) and cannabis could push major advancements in this field of medicine (they could make it profitable, unlike allot of people say. like having the ability to build cannabinoid structures/mixtures for different purposes, this could be easily copied though "I guess")

mikes1992
mikes1992

Doesn't this just backup legalising cannabis? While cannabis is safe in many aspects (It can cause mental illness... this risk could be vastly reduced with extra monitoring and having a safety guide line to the THC and CBD ratios as well as stopping extra drugs being mixed in to make people think it's high quality!) the drugs that imitate it are probably twice as dangerous (assuming the cannabis you are comparing too is pure) and as stated in this more powerful (4-5x more powerful?)

ericweedhub
ericweedhub

 It's very important to know the quality of Medical Marijuana.It's good if you can buy the Best Marijuana.

James
James

GOOD. "light-headedness or warm-headedness, a feeling of relaxation, even the munchies" HAS NEVER HURT A GOD DAMN SOUL, MUCH UNLIKE THE JIM BEAM I INDULGE AT THIS MOMENT BECAUSE I CANNOT SMOKE DUE TO THE GANG WE CALL THE POLICE.

I'VE NEVER HURT ANYONE. I'VE NEVER MADE AN UNHONEST DOLLAR IN MY ENTIRE FUCKING LIFE. I'VE NEVER CHEATED ANYONE. I AM JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER AMERICAN TO EVER WALK THE STREETS. I AM A MAN OF HONOR.

I STAND PROUD TO SAY THAT MARIJUANA HELPS PEOPLE AND I COUNT MYSELF AMONG THEM. IN TOUGH TIMES, I TURN TO JWH. FUCK WHOEVER WROTE THIS, ANTI OPEN-MINDEDNESS, "STOP PEOPLE FROM GETTING HIGH" BULLSHIT, REDNECK THEORIST WHO HAS NEVER EXPERIENCED WHAT IT IS LIKE TO HAVE A FULL UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORLD WHICH SURROUNDS THEM. OPEN YOUR EYES.

FUCK YOU AND ALL YOU STAND FOR YOU PIECE OF SHIT. YOU HAVE THE GALL TO TELL ME HOW TO LIVE MY LIFE BECAUSE A LAW IS ON THE BOOKS? FUCK YOUUUUUU.

Bobby
Bobby

I would like to say I thank you to everyone would provides so much feedback for us when we don't even advertise at the moment but by word of mouth! :) Mine product is not an Herbal Incense but yet an Aromatic Potpourri.

http://www.afghanbluegrass.com to see for yourself the best of the best!

But I purchase my 018 from

http://www.sresearchchemicals.... and it is paypal accepted! Best prices out there too ^_^

We own many companies and we are PayPal accepted everywhere on the net!

We have a community based loyalty for first time buyers ;) Plus ABG keeps you updated at all times!

You will not fail any urine test but this is

"Afghan BlueGrass Aromatic Potpourri"

Not Herbal Incense! All states accepted except Kansas.

Thank You

Johnathan
Johnathan

Cory, you can go to scientificresearchchemicals.co... and they sell pure jwh-018 for very cheap too and their shipping is very fast. : )

For everybody out there that can’t smoke weed because of random drug testing. There’s this stuff out there called Afghan Bluegrass out there that is the greatest I have ever smoked! I have tried Spice, Pep Spice, K2 and all of the other brands out there and I was not satisfied. I have been smoking weed for years now and recently had to quit because of my job now doing random drug testing. I have done my research and have found out that with this stuff you don’t have to worry about drug tests. I even gave myself a drug test to make sure I am safe and I was! I used to be a very avid weed smoker and I have a very high tolerance... Maybe that’s why that fake stuff like Spice, and K2 really didn’t do a whole lot for me. I got to say that stuff Afghan Bluegrass is amazing it’s just like smoking some really high grade stuff and it doesn’t show up on drug tests. I buy weekly direct from there company website www.afghanbluegrass.com The customer service is very nice and they even sent me some free stuff because I told them I was so satisfied with their product and I buy weekly from them. They take care of their customers! I would recommend doing business with them.

cory
cory

Could you just buy some JWH-18 and smoke it with some legal buds and get the same high with the herbal blends.

amy
amy

i was wonderin if it showed up in urine drug tests. ive bn smokin it and now my job wants to do random drug tests. thank you, amy

d-money
d-money

this incense is the best thing since sliced bread... never having to call a dealer again to get high? - can you say AWESOME??? This stuff smoked with a 'bat' (cigarette looking 'bowl') produces the best euphoria I have seen yet. Awesome stuff.

jason
jason

I run a local business in the phoenix area called JWH-018buyonline.com I deliver to the U.S. only and will also do local pickups if any one is interested please email me. Guaranteed to be 99.8% pure and competitive prics.

tonya
tonya

i smoke it and love it.. its the same as smokin pot but the darn pigs cant get me.. lol i just learned about it last week and started smokin it.. and i hope they just leave it alone cuz i dont wanna stop i felt stoned like i just smoked some good green but after a few seconds we all looked at each other and said well i feel something then it hit us all we were blown.. it has a trippin feelin to it but not as intense.. u just feel really loopy and its an awesome body high.. try it youll love it.. xoxo

Anon
Anon

My friend is on PTI right now so he cant smoke bud. He got a gram of this stuff and wanted me to try it with him, so i was like "whatever lets do it". This shit looks like cocaine haha it's the best way i can describe it. TWO bowl packs later ( a bowl pack of this stuff is small, he used a key to shovel it out and into the piece) and i was pretty ripped, unbelievably stoned. Overall it felt exactly like a marijuana high, euphoria, the giggles and a nice body high to boot. Overall it was pretty sweet but i really don't know too much about this substance since it is a chemical after all not a fucking spice. I would like to find out more definitive information about it before i smoke this shit daily.

Brad
Brad

"It can NOT be good for you. It is NOT weed."

So things that are not weed are necessarily "NOT good for you"? Fantastic logic, despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence that the stuff is harmful for you.

"Does this seem like a crazy smokescreen to anyone else? Did everybody forget about the real deal or what?"

Did you forget that you can go to jail for smoking the real stuff? For even possessing the real stuff? Did you forget that you can lose your job for smoking the real stuff? That either or both of these may cause you to lose your home, your possessions, even your relationships?

What is so hard to understand about wanting to get high without the threat of losing your career and being imprisoned?

"This stuff if wrong."

It's not wrong just because you're in love with pot. Many potheads can't get their mind around the value of synthetic cannabinoids. And, by the way, no, it's not more expensive than pot if you simply buy the synthetic yourself, which you can then use straight or mix with whatever else you want - tobacco, pot (which many people do), or other herbs. You can ingest it directly in pills or on food, or with drink. And it's ridiculously inexpensive. With a dose ranging from 2 to 5mg, and even moderate tolerance requiring no more than 15 or 20mg for most people, you're talking about anywhere from 50 to 200 highs off of one gram, which will run you $50 to $60 - as little as 30 cents per high.

HeloniLynn
HeloniLynn

Really though, what are the ramifications of smoking this? It's one thing smoking weed, something that you know God made - but this is "legal" not "better". It can NOT be good for you. It is NOT weed. It's a different buzz if you ask me. Not that I'm knocking it, but it's obviously synthetic, and it's totally expensive. Does this seem like a crazy smokescreen to anyone else? Did everybody forget about the real deal or what? We don't care about our right to toke anymore, we just take this pacifier and call it OK? Who cares what kind of weird deformities we get from smoking this crap, right, as long as it's easier. What do I care? I've got a bag of it right now - can't find weed in this town right now to save your life. Illegal doesn't make it immoral, and legal doesn't make it moral. This stuff if wrong. If we're willing to trade our bud for any old chemical off the street, our BUD - that's reefer, remember? Just because it's green and somebody told you you could smoke it doesn't make it a plant. Like pot - weed, Mary Jane? The source and inspiration of all the best rock n roll? What's next - Synthetic American Pie? I call it a sign of the troubled times.

fredman
fredman

ive tryed the jwh-018 and it gets you verry verry stoned! it was just like weed."BUT" if you do moore then 1-2mg at once. it not that fun. its verry strong and will make you earl,have panic atak, sweting, and you are so high all you want is for it to stop!so dont take much.

Ray Fitch
Ray Fitch

There are also some other popular brands liek PEP Spice and Black Mamba here...but they seem way over priced for the quality they provide when compared to the Organic blends (http://www.organicspiceblend.c...)

Ray Fitch
Ray Fitch

Here in Miami this thing is relatively new, but headshops cant seem to keep it on the shelves! The best I've tried are the organic spice blends which seem to be a lot more natural that that other stuff.

G
G

this is a total misrepresentation, again we find a biased article FIRST, all the products in the article mentioned CLEARLY SAY ( DO NOT CONSUME) - if people chose to misuse aproduct of any kind that fault lies with the pesrson SECOND ( there are many ordanarry things that people use to mimic ather drugs that are very unhealthy and addictive but are offen overlooked EX ( lwould like to see some reporting on the deadlines ov huffing gold paint, inhaling nitros from whipped cream cans , injesting large amounts of nutmeg (witch used to be an illegal drug) and on and on, but istead we see examples of people missusing a product and isomehow this is the fault of the product not of the people who use product improperly. Would gasoline fall unde the same scrutiny if people up and started huffing itl am not an advocate for any of these these but l believe that that the fault lies with the missusing of a product ,and that should be brought to life in the article,

buyjwh
buyjwh

This is a story about a pot head who was faced with a big decision once the law caught up with his pot selling, he was in a SCREWED. He had to go to jail for a while and then got out only to be on that god damn PROBATION. He combed over the internet, his marijuana addiction couldn’t be stopped, he would try and simply detox himself once a month and try stop smoking for two weeks before probation while working out using Creatine to try and rid THC from his system. After failing one urine screen at probation and sentenced to spend 3 nights in jail, I learned I was doomed to spend the next remainder of my probation in and out of jail when he discovered a miracle. In 1995 there was a scientist named John W Huffman, he engineered from the ground up a substance to be named JWH-018, whose specific purpose was to get people high in a similar fashion as cannabis. The substance is easily synthesized under controlled conditions now at a lab somewhere in the north Texas, and it is READILY available. These Spice blends, K2, Dream, Synergy are all over head shops EVERYWHERE and are sold as incense with no talk about what’s in them or what they are… they are all over priced ridiculous knockoff brands that are all mixtures of jwh-018 and most likely are in some form or fashion impure states of the synthetic cannabinoid… The fact is you can save HUNDREDS of dollars and buy your own JWH-018 online and get it direct.

-JWH-018 is not tested for by any organization, and is 100% legal in the United States except for Kansas.

-One gram of JWH-018 will last you most likely weeks considering a good smoke-able dose is between 2-5 mgs. There are 1000 mgs in 1 Gram of jwh.

-When you purchase online now, you can request that your package be hand delivered if you’re in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

-Jwh-018 is four to five times more potent than THC.

-So while before thos pot head was doomed, he now smokes a legal alternative on a regular basis jwh-018 with absolutely no side effects.

-It is Not carcinogenic and Not CYTOTOXIC under moderate levels… so that means that it does not harm brain cells nor have the possibility of causing cancer since it doesn’t do any damage to our DNA.

-If you simply can’t smoke weed, are on probation, or take some type of urine tests this letter is for you. It’s finally now your turn to get as high as you want and do it safely and responsibly.

-The website doesn’t reference the getting high part obviously because it wants to stay under the radar of the man, its manufactured as bonsai feeder and not for human consumption yet so much research promotes its safety.Buyjwh018online.com

buyjwh018online
buyjwh018online

buy it now at http://www.buyjwh018online.com. they have the best product hands down on the web, with ridiculous purity, great customer service and they're on time for their orders. Use them, soon while all this is all good and legal still.

henrysmithhatty
henrysmithhatty

Trying to crop something nice a lot are make my own shit

henrysmithhatty
henrysmithhatty

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henrysmithhatty
henrysmithhatty

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henrysmithhatty
henrysmithhatty

Please fuck wit homie im trying to get some asap and leaves my name is hatty im from new Orleans im in lafayette rite my number is 3372696340

 
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