K2 — the street name for plant matter sprayed with synthetic chemicals, designed to mimic the effects of marijuana's active ingredient — is currently America's cheapest way to get high. The drug is often sold at corner stores, labeled as potpourri and unfit for human consumption. A bag of K2 sells for $5 to $10, while a joint goes for just $1.
But the drug's dangerous side effects have taken a toll on a wide variety of communities across the country, particularly in New York City. US poison control centers received more than 6,000 K2 calls in the first nine months of 2015, around a quarter of those calls came from NYC.
VICE News gets a glimpse of the challenges New York City is facing with K2 through the lens of volunteer ambulance corps and harm reduction specialists in its outer boroughs.