The smell wafts into my cell and stings my nose. Like burning paint and paper, it is a thick, acrid smell. Not at all like the sweet smell of burning weed that I remember and occasionally still smell around here. This is far nastier. Like a burning cat turd soaked in roach spray. It might even be exactly that! No one knows what is in the shit they are smoking to get high around here. It’s killing folks though. We know that.
It is commissary day on my wing here at the Prison unit I am in in Huntsville. Everyone who has money on their book has made store and everyone who doesn’t is busy hustling from those who do. The Toon heads are smoking their commissary up as fast as they can light it. The stuff they are smoking is not marijuana. It is Toon. Also called legal, two-chi, work, gas, or the more widely known K-2. Here in TDCJ [Texas Department of Criminal Justice], it is an epidemic and people are going into seizure daily in my unit. We call it, “Toon attacks.” I see people carried out of these wings on stretchers all the time and some of them never come back. People I used to be able to hold a decent conversation with now stare blankly and respond only to one thing - Toon. Who has it, how much, and can they pay them later for some now. We call them, “Toon heads.” They sell all of their stuff, including medications and food, then steal anything left within reach just to get that next stick of Toon. In the few years I have been in this system, I have seen it spread like a virus, swift and deadly.
I sit here on my bunk in my cell and listen to the people yelling up and down the run, smelling the Toon in the air and wondering, “Why?” We all see the effects of what that stuff is doing to people here. All for a short 15 minute high that sometimes makes you go into convulsions, or crazy for a bit. Some Toon heads attack themselves or anyone around them. Others lock up like statues and don’t move at all, just stare and drool. We call it getting “stuck.” The nurses come in and put them on a stretcher to wheel them out, the inmate still in the same sitting or bent-over position they were in when they got “stuck”. Sometimes it makes people’s bodies overheat and they get naked and run around until they are tackled or they run into a wall. Others throw up and lie in it, shivering and mumbling. K-2 is the worst parts of the worst drugs put together, and then sprayed with more chemicals. There are people with obvious brain damage here from it, and yes, some even die. TDCJ attributes their deaths to something else, of course, just like they do for heat-related deaths and those caused by botched healthcare. Officially, it’s always because of a pre-existing condition. But we all know the truth in here.
I understand the desire to catch a buzz or even just numb things for a while to get you past a particularly rough day. I am also a firm believer in marijuana being a strong medicine and believe it should have been legalized long ago. It is the only thing that has helped me through severe bouts of depression and PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder]. Before prison, I smoked it daily for more years than I didn’t. But K-2 is not marijuana. Marijuana has never killed anyone.
Why do people, especially in here, smoke it then? Getting caught means that you will probably end up spending even more time behind these bars! I believe that people really just want to get away from this place for a while, in any way they can. I can’t fault them for that. I escape in my own way through books, letters, and pictures from home. I don’t want to be in this place anymore than anyone else does, including the guards.
While there are many other drugs and alcohol available in this place, none is more prevalent than Toon. None easier to get either. K-2 even gets into high security units where you are locked up by yourself with no access to anyone. Toon finds its way in. It’s unstoppable it seems, and I think TDCJ doesn’t even really want to stop it. If they did, they would simply search the guards coming on duty like they search the inmates before and after visitations. That would stop the pipeline. Do they think that it’s produced here like hootch is?
Another reason that people smoke it here is that as dangerous as it is, it is easier to smoke without getting caught. It can’t be detected on a drug test, and dogs sniff right past it, so it’s easy to hide. It only takes a rice grain-sized piece, ground up and rolled into a sliver-sized joint (stick) to get high. However, that rice grain-sized piece is also enough to give you brain damage, more time in prison, or even kill you. In contrast, marijuana is considered too “loud” (smelly) to smoke, practically glows on a piss test, and the dogs go right to it. Go figure.
For me, the choice is simple. I am not willing to risk my life or more time here for what Toon/K-2 has to offer. I’ll continue to escape through my books, letters, and pictures. I will just do my time and observe this crazy world inside these fences, and then of course, report back to you all. I ask in return that you guys think of me occasionally while enjoying a nice day at the beach, and maybe partaking of a nice, all natural, sweet smelling, sticky smoke. There is no substitute! Just please, please stay away from the Toon! It is not worth it, my friends. Man made K-2, God made pot. God is perfect, man is not.