There have been an increasing number of cases of people experiencing seizures, heart palpitations, fever, dehydration and some psychotic episodes after using the drug.
Since 2004, K2 has been sold and packaged as incense or potpourri, in the guise of a mixture of herbs and spices.
It sells for about $30 to $40 per 3-gram bag, comparable to the cost of marijuana.
Drugmakers can make hundreds of versions of the chemical compound, and it's easy to manufacture.
Although the Drug Enforcement Administration has taken steps to ban five chemicals sometimes found in K2, versions of the compound have multiplied, and increased in use over the past few years.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 11 percent of nearly 15,000 high school seniors surveyed reported using K2 in 2011.
That year, poison control centers reported handling nearly 7,000 calls about K2, nearly double the calls received in 2010.
One recent study suggests that K2 could increase the risk of psychosis, even among people with no history of a psychiatric disorder.
"K2 is a more potent substance than natural marijuana by its actions on the brain," said Dr. Ashwin Reddy, an author of that study and a psychiatrist at the Boston University School of Medicine. "It can cause an increased risk of paranoia, hearing voices, disorganized behavior and panic symptoms."
"Depending on the person, psychotic symptoms can last a few days to a few months," Reddy said.
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