Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that the City Attorney has advised five Lincoln retailers known to have sold K2 that legal action will be taken against them unless they sign a community protection agreement with the City. By signing the agreement, the retailer makes a commitment to cease and desist from selling or distributing K2 products within the City limits.
"The recent increase in medical emergencies traced to K2 makes it clear that the sale, distribution and use of K2 products are a threat to public health and safety," Mayor Beutler said. "While the recent raids have removed the products from stores, we want to make sure that this dangerous drug does not reappear on their shelves and become readily available in the future."
The five retailers received letters from City Attorney Jeff Kirkpatrick saying that K2 products have been deemed a public nuisance. His goal is to have the community protection agreements signed by the retailers by May 15. Those receiving the letters include the two shops where police seized 1,200 packets of K2 last week - Aladdin Tobacco at 2630 Orchard St. and Island Smokes at 1075 N. 33rd St. The other three establishments receiving letters are Aladdin Tobacco, 2933 Starr St.; Dirt Cheap, 2705 Randolph St.; and Wicked Smoke, 1603 West "O" St.
Kirkpatrick said any other retailers who offer K2 for sale will receive the same letter and face the same legal action. He said a similar strategy was successful in Yavapai County, Arizona.
Public safety and health officials say more than 100 people have overdosed on K2 in the past couple of weeks. The number of cases has dropped following the raid and recent public information efforts. K2, also known as spice, is a plant product sprayed with chemicals to induce a high. It is marketed as potpourri and labeled "not fit for human consumption." It is legal unless smoked or otherwise ingested.
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department has started a database to help coordinate the reporting of K2 cases in the community and is monitoring for any trends or changes in reports.
"Our Health Department continues to work with community partners to share educational materials and answer calls from concerned family members," Beutler said. "We are happy to see the reduction in overdoses, but we also know we have to remain vigilant to educate the public about the serious, potentially life-threatening effects of smoking K2."