A community conversation with youth and adults on the topic of synthetic drugs took place Aug. 31 in the R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center at the St. Elizabeth’s East campus in Washington, D.C.

The program, entitled “Back to School with No K2,” focused on the powerful synthetic drug K2, also known as spice. The event washosted by former Peaceaholics co-founder Ron Moten, now part of the Eleuthera Institute Art of Peace.

Underscoring the District’s ongoing issue with the substance, the day after the program Metropolitan Police Department detectives, along with Homeland Security Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration special agents, arrested two men in the largest synthetic drug bust in D.C. history.

Siraj Issa, 33, of Northwest D.C., and Yenework Abera, 41, of Alexandria, Va., were charged with possession with intent to distribute synthetic cannabinoids. The two were found with packets of K2 totaling 265 pounds, and possessing an estimated value of $2.3 million dollars.

“As I have said, we must intercept illegal drugs at the source. The seizure of such a large amount of synthetic drugs is a relief to both the MPD and the community,” Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said in a statement. “The hard investigative work that our members pride themselves on has potentially saved countless lives and helped to stem the violence that goes hand in hand with the selling and consumption of illegal drugs.”

Saving lives was also the focus of the Back to School K2 meeting, in which two videos were presented showing youth actors demonstrating the negative effects of synthetic drugs on he body.

“I’m a living testimony, I was trying to duck the dirty urine,” said one youth who used K2. “But this summer I was part of the D.C. Bosses Program and I’m here to tell you, K2 is not good for you. I know a few people who cared about me in the community that saw me going down the wrong path and it’s like man, you doing the wrong thing, you smoking K2.

“You’re looking bad, you’re losing your blow, you looking like a bum,” he added.

Questions arose regarding what synthetic drugs really are, marijuana terminology and how they relate to arrest procedures, police-community interaction, and snitching someone out in the community. One youth pointed out that no one was going to snitch on someone when they see the police coming.

“They gonna say, the police is coming and I’m being honest; nobody ain’t gonna let nobody get locked up,” said the youth.

“It’s up to people like you to fight this and send a message to our community that synthetic drugs will not, will not, break or discourage this community down any more than it has,” Anacostia Coordinating Council Executive Director Phil Pannell responded.