A popular Valley bar and nightclub is selling herbal smoke blends containing synthetic cannabinoid compound JWH.
The JWH compound, which we first wrote about in February, reportedly has the same effects when smoked as THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Several countries and U.S. states have banned the substance, and drug tests to detect JWH are being developed. The compound is still unregulated in Arizona, where new local JWH entrepreneurs - like a company that claims to sell JWH in pure, powder form appear every month.
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Now local bars are getting in on the trend, starting with punk staple Jugheads. Owner Tanya Copeland says they've been selling herbal "spice" blends from the bar for a couple of months.
The herbal "spice" blend sold at the bar is called Black Mamba. Copeland says the blend is mostly damiana root, and is locally made. In addition to the leafy green components, the blends also contain JWH compounds -- so people like to smoke them because of the reputed high.
Black Mamba's sold in some Valley head shops, but national "herbal incense" brands like Spice, K2, and Serenity Now dominate the shelves there. The other two blends sold at Jugheads are new and local, but their prices are more than competitive.
Herbal incense blends at head shops in Phoenix cost an average $30 per gram. At Jugheads, $15 buys almost a gram of Black Mamba.
(Little formal research has been conducted on the effects of JWH, and we don't endorse smoking it. But since it's currently legal here, we made a personal decision to be a guinea pig.)
In the name of journalism, I tried a sample of Black Mamba, which wasn't as harsh on the throat as other herbal blends we've tried. It smelled like most other herbal blends - very earthy and slightly spicy, with a fragrant hint of patchouli (this stuff is often sold as "incense," after all). It tastes vaguely of wet grass, but the effects were impressive. Aside from having cold ears (weird!), I felt relaxed, thoughtful, and slightly hungry -- the same way I did when I visited hash bars in Amsterdam, but my limbs were less relaxed and I felt less of an urge to just sit and stare at something. This was definitely a "heady" high.
For more of our experiences with JWH, check out "Six Things You Should Know About Smoking JWH."