NEW PHILADELPHIA -- Local law enforcement officers in Tuscarawas County have become aware of juveniles as well as young adults who are abusing a certain kind of incense by smoking the substance.

The substance is commonly known on the street as "K2" although it is sold under commercial names throughout the country. The substance looks like a cross between tobacco and marijuana and is sold in many local convenient stores, tobacco shops and other outlets in the community.

K2 is said to have been created in the 1990s by a chemist and is also said to have been marketed in China and Korea as a plant growth stimulant. The compound is believed to work on the brain the same way marijuana's active ingredient THC or tetrahydrocannabinol affecting the central nervous system. The product, however, is said to create a highly stimulated intoxicated feeling that is much the opposite of marijuana. Some of those affects noted are that of an increased heart rate, dangerously elevated blood pressure and vomiting. Some users have described the high as "a very intense rush."

The Task Force has received information that juveniles are purchasing this substance very frequently believing that because it is legal to buy it is also legal to smoke.

According to Assistant Tuscarawas County Prosecutor Michael Ernest, smoking the incense is absolutely illegal and a charge of Abusing a Harmful Intoxicant (ORC 2925.31) would be appropriate in the event a person is caught smoking the product. This is the same first degree misdemeanor charge that is used for "huffing" paint and other common household products. A second conviction qualifies as a fifth degree felony, according to the Ohio Revised Code.

Officers encourage all parents, as well as school officials to be aware of the abuse potential of this product and report any improper illegal use of it their local law enforcement office or to the County Drug Task Force at (330) 339-7713.