According to the D.C. Department of Health’s Addiction Prevention & Recovery Administration, if you try "fake weed," you will turn into a zombie.
Well, metaphorically, according to a new ad campaign.
The health campaign, which launched in May, hopes to make D.C. residents, specifically the youth, stop using synthetic marijuana, more commonly known as K2 or spice.
Fake weed is illegal in D.C. -- as well as Virginia, among some 40 states -- but, says DOH spokesperson Najma Roberts, it's still popular.
In an email to The Huffington Post, Roberts notes that a 2012 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of D.C. students found that "at least 10 % of middle schools students reported using synthetic marijuana and at least 20 % of high school students reported using it."
As the website set up in conjunction with the health campaign explains, fake weed is not marijuana at all. It's usually made up of dried plants and chemical additives, and typically labeled as potpourri or incense.
While horror stories have been chronicled across the country, the stuff is easy to find on the internet and in convenience stores, and gives its user a high not dissimilar to that of marijuana, according to some accounts.
The trusty guys over at Gothamist gave the fake stuff a whirl, after the state of New York made it illegal. The participants barely felt any of the substance's effect -- let alone its negative effects:
It doesn't look like much, smells worse and smokes poorly. But it does give the smoker a slight high, akin to the one you had that one time in middle school. An eye high, if you will, that fades fast. In our tests we experienced none of the symptoms that the New York State Department of Health is so worried about. No heart palpitations, no confusion or seizures. Just a light high.
And why call someone using the substance a zombie? The DOH website explains that "Fake weed causes extreme anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks, alienation/disassociation, psychotic episodes and hallucinations. This behavior has been labeled the 'zombie' effect."
In many cases, a label on the substance reads, "Not for human consumption." To the best of our knowledge, the labels do not say if the substance is appropriate for actual zombies, or other undead.