Stephen Marquez, 23, of North Platte faces misdemeanor drug charges after he was arrested July 6 for speeding.
Marquez was stopped near Fourth and Maple and the officer smelled an odor similar to marijuana, according to a Nebraska State Patrol report. He searched the vehicle and found K2, an illegal synthetic drug, and a prescription codeine pill. Marquez did not have a prescription.
Marquez also had a passenger in the car - Alex Bowman, 19, of North Platte. Bowman was cited and released.
K2 was outlawed in 2011 in Nebraska and many other states. It has been known to provoke violent behavior. It was found in the body of Robert Butler Jr., a Millard South High School student who went on shooting spree in January 2011 and then shot himself. It was also thought to have provoked an 18 year old man to kill himself in Iowa that year, according to a report by the Daily Nebraskan newspaper.
K2 is a mixture of herbs and spices sprayed with a compound developed in the mid-1990s by Clemson University chemist John Huffman.
Huffman was studying the effects of cannabinoids (compounds present in marijuana) on the brain and published the formula for the mixture that lends K2 its potency.
"Apparently somebody picked it up, I think in Europe, on the idea of doping this incense mixture with the compound and smoking it," Huffman said in an interview with online journal LiveScience. "You can get very high on it. It's about 10 times more active than THC.”
THC is the active component of marijuana.
Since the Legislature outlawed K2, it has disappeared from the shelves of the businesses that previously sold it as incense, the state patrol said. The North Platte businesses cooperated fully and removed it from their shelves immediately after the state banned it, but it is still available on the street just like any other drug tends to be, and law enforcement is working to uncover the sources.
Bond was set for Marquez at $2,500 bond. He spent the weekend in jail, paid the required 10 percent and was released July 9 to await trial.