The Truth About Synthetic Marijuana
Do you know what you need to know about synthetic marijuana?
Published on September 23, 2015

The DEA classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, meaning it's grouped with some of the most dangerous illegal drugs in the world. For years, legal alternatives to these substances have been curated, but none have achieved the popularity that synthetic marijuana has. Known as K2 or Spice, synthetic marijuana is actually far more dangerous than its illegal counterpart—the plant we all know and love. In the first half of 2015 there were a total of 15 reported deaths credited to K2. The truth of the matter is that Spice is not something that should be readily available to consumers and both the DEA and federal government agree.

What is it Exactly?

K2 goes by many names, such as fake weed, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, Moon Rocks and Spice, and consists of a blend of herbs. While its packaging normally insists that it’s a natural product, a chemical breakdown finds that many of its components that aim to replicate the high marijuana gives you are, in fact, man made. In some cases, these additions are highly dangerous. In fact, K2 is the second most abused illicit substance by high school students after natural marijuana. In some cases, the synthetic components are so toxic that users experience intense paranoia, anxiety and even hallucinations. While studies indicate that Spice does replicate the high marijuana gives you to some degree, “synthetic marijuana” is far from being any sort of alternative to the herb used both recreationally and medicinally.

Associated Dangers

The use of K2 is associated with a number of health problems. The first is that the high it produces in its users is too effective at slowing down the brain. Spice acts with cannabinoid receptors much like THC: it inhibits them to a certain degree. In some cases, Spice almost renders these receptors obsolete for an extended period of time and can cause serious cognitive damage. The blend may even cause ischemic stroke as a result of acute cerebral infarction, which essentially describes a lack of blood flow to the brain.

Other dangers include uncontrollable hallucinations. In one instance, a user reacted so negatively that he began to scream, grabbed a rifle that was in his home and shot himself—now that's a bad trip. More importantly, this is not normal behaviour of someone who has consumed marijuana and, instead, is due to the way the chemicals in Spice, the THC and the cannabinoids interact. Other users have experienced an increase in blood pressure, vomiting, seizures and a number of other incredibly unpleasant side effects that could lead to hospitalization or in a small percentage of cases, death.

Synthetic marijuana, while it may aim to be an equivalent to its natural counterpart, is highly dangerous to users. Many who try Spice experience a high similar to that of cannabis, but there have been cases where users needed emergency medical attention, making us view this blend in a very negative light. 

Not only are the components of synthetic marijuana made in a lab, but the potency is often higher than the body can tolerate and can result in permanent brain damage, heart attacks and many other serious side effects. Because of this, we suggest turning to the more natural alternative we know we can trust—the herb—instead of this man made substance.

MERRY JANE is based in Los Angeles, California and is dedicated to elevating the discussion around cannabis culture.
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