Chilling K2 drug warning

Emily Holkenbrink is taking a stand against the synthetic cannabis product K2, which she blames for a manic episode she had last month. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Emily Holkenbrink is taking a stand against the synthetic cannabis product K2, which she blames for a manic episode she had last month. Photo by Craig Baxter.
A Dunedin teen is warning others against the dangers of the synthetic cannabis product K2, which she blames for a manic episode in which she battered and bruised her own face.

"I was doing crazy things, and that was just not like me ... I am normally happy and chilled," Emily Holkenbrink (18) said.

She said she had been smoking the product for the past year, and had developed a 6g-a-day habit, costing her $17-$20 a day.

However, she said she had quit her legal high habit after a manic episode last month which resulted in her spending time in an isolation ward at a psychiatric hospital.

"I was possessed by a demon ... I did not know what was happening. I started screaming so loudly that I did not even recognise my own voice."

She said that incident was the result of her K2 habit, which left her feeling agitated and aggressive. She had even punched herself in the face.

She contacted the Otago Daily Times after reading about the growing concern over the product and its effect on young people.

"Everyone I know is doing this ... and I don't care if all my friends hate me for talking about it, but I want this stuff off the market because I care enough for my friends to want this stuff gone."

She had spent thousands of dollars on synthetic cannabis, such as Kronic and Tai High, but it was the still-legal K2 that was causing her friends the biggest problems.

"People are having nightmares about killing their friends and family ... this is is horrendous stuff."

She had sold most of her possessions to buy synthetic cannabis.

She said the age-restricted product was readily available at many city dairies, some of which sold K2 to under-18s without asking for identification. She knew of 13-year-olds who could source the products.

Last week, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said he was concerned by reports in the lower South Island about K2, and the Ministry of Health was working with police to test K2.

To date, 28 substances have been placed under temporary class drug notices, effectively removing more than 50 synthetic cannabis products from the market.

Legislation would be introduced in Parliament before the end of this year to reverse the onus of proof so synthetic cannabis manufacturers would have to prove their products were safe through rigorous testing regimes at their own cost.

That change could not come soon enough for Miss Holkenbrink, who said since giving up the product she had lost 10kg, her skin was clearing up and she was feeling excited about the future, including the possibility of studying at polytechnic.

"I feel amazing. I can't even explain how life is now."



This stuff is extremely potent. Even after using recreational drugs for 10 years, the most extreme effects I've encountered have been from synthetic weed. 

Living with a K2 addict

So we are living with a K2 addict. Reading this article and others and being able to see our flatmate deteriorate at a increasing rate scare us to no end. The girl we used to know is slipping away. It doesn't matter what we do or try she's hooked on this. The sooner they can get this stuff off the shelf the better. Before we and others in our situation lose someone we cared about so much


I have read with interest the comments pertaining to the synthetic drug "K2" I app;aud the writing of the young lady who quite candidly reports on her usage of K2. Thank you for your courage.
And, whilst the government has 28 substances placed under temporary class drug notices, effectively removing more than 50 synthetic cannabis products from the market, it does not go anywhere near enough to addressing the product or products concerned. Perhaps it will take a death for the government to realise that by slow marching down the aisle officialdom does exactly the same. In the mean time, our children and young persons are being preyed upon daily to purchase these "legal" products...and so often to their detriment.
I am trying to understand the comment of a young person who is gainfully employed and has so clearly named some of his materiel assets. Well done for working and earning the right to purchase these assets. However, I consider the theme of your comment as being either naive or self centred to the extent that we as responsible parents are supposed to sit back and say, 'well done, keep with K2'. Have you ever seen the actual negative effects of K2? Maybe not. I have, and have seen my son collapse as a result. I do not want to bury him, as at the age of 24 years his life is just starting.
Please seek out your Member of Parliament and point out the evils of this synthetic drug and put pressure on to have it and similar products banned. [Abridged]


I blame the government

This synthetic stuff is so popular because of the drug testing for employment and the fact the government won't decriminalise cannabis.
I know plenty of people that smoke cannabis and hold down well-paying jobs with no effect on their work. I also know a few that play on a drug dependency to not work and stay on a benefit
The solution lies with the government making the right decision for a change. Surely, by now, they have figured out that they will never stop the people smoking cannabis if they desire, as making it illegal certainly hasn't worked.


In defence of synthetic cannabis

Why is it that whenever there is something written about these products all the media does is talk to the people against it, you never care about the people who do like it and enjoy it. I have been smoking synthetic cannabis for over two years and I know many others who also smoke and enjoy it. I do it in the privacy of my own house with my friends we do not harm anyone or ourselves.

I live a normal life. I have two jobs, a car, two computers a nice little flat filled with 3 tv's and lots of other stuff as well as my wife (but don't think we are rich as we have worked for all this). Also over the last 4 months I have been on a diet while still smoking these products K2 included and I have lost over 20kgs. For a long time I have had a very sore back and feet so smoking these products helps with the pain and also stops my brain from racing a mile a minute to help me relax and also sleep. You bad month the product so much but don't say anything about the people in these shops selling it to young kids, if someone gave the keys of a car to a 13 year old and he took off and crashed and kill himself and others would you blame the car? So don't blame the product blame the people.

Thank God you were saved

Congratulations for your courage to speak out about your life threatening experience. I hope everyone reading your story will make them realise how precious one's life is. We are only on this Earth for a very short time so try to do your best instead of wasting it on money wasting and risky pleasures.    

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