Attorneys warned of unknowingly providing drugs to Michigan inmates

Michigan attorneys are being warned to not provide original documents to clients who are incarcerated after several reports of lawyers unknowingly providing drugs to inmates through tainted papers.

The drug is technically known as K2, but also is called “spice” and sometimes “fake weed.” The drug is a synthetic cannabinoid that is created in a lab, often with inconsistent or unknown chemicals. It can be sprayed onto paper or dried in it. When smoked or vaporized, the drug can alter a person’s mental state and can have dangerous and life-threatening effects, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

The substance has been discovered in Michigan by prison officials after documents were mailed by attorneys to their imprisoned clients.

Attorneys are advised to take precautionary measures to ensure they do not inadvertently pass K2 or potentially other illegal substances to clients in prison, such as:

• Providing photocopies, not original documents, to clients in prison. This is already standard practice for many attorneys and is the single easiest way to protect yourself.

• Using a NarcoCheck Test. A NarcoCheck test is quick and easy to use at a relatively low cost. When the test contacts a synthetic cannabinoid it will change color, alerting the user that the materials are laced with drugs. The cost of the test is typically less than $3 and can be purchased through drug testing retail sources.

Attorneys with questions about suspicious documents or any other ethical topic can call State Bar of Michigan’s Ethics Helpline at 877-558-4760 to get confidential, informal advisory opinions from a staff attorney.

For additional information, visit the National Institute of Drug Abuse website at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cannabinoids-k2spice.

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