Sold under a variety of monikers, most commonly spice and K2, synthetic cannabinoids, while analogues of tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC, are hardly natural substances. First used in Europe, its use has skyrocketed in the United States over the past 10 years, and it has been associated with increasingly severe side effects and even death.
Synthetic cannabis, of which Spice is an example, is linked to serious health issues ranging from difficulties breathing to psychotic episodes. But, despite well-known issues, these drugs are still in demand and homeless people, particularly, are at risk of mental health issues from their use. So what exactly are these drugs made of and why do they cause such violent reactions.
Hospitalizations in the UK from taking synthetic cannabinoids could be avoided through implementing a strict regulatory model for drugs. Instead, the government is pushing ahead with a blanket ban of these and similar substances that will only increase their dangers.
Cheap, unpredictable and hard to regulate, synthetic
marijuana has emergency responders scrambling to save lives.
It's hard to guess what will happen after you smoke or ingest spike, users and drug enforcement officials say, because the chemists who make it are constantly changing the main ingredients — tweaking a cannabinoid's chemical structure, or mixing it with other substances entirely, which can change its effects.
K2 — the street name for plant matter sprayed with synthetic chemicals, designed to mimic the effects of marijuana's active ingredient — is currently America's cheapest way to get high. The drug is often sold at corner stores, labeled as potpourri and unfit for human consumption. A bag of K2 sells for $5 to $10, while a joint goes for just $1.
But the drug's dangerous side effects have taken a toll on a wide variety of communities across the country, particularly in New York City.
Synthetic marijuana lures users with its cheap price and kick; overdoses and violent displays surge.
A study reveals just how harmful cannabis substitutes can be. But despite a string of high-profile deaths linked to the drug, feds have found it a slippery target to crack down on.
Why are the effects of synthetic cannabis so varied and so toxic? Researchers are starting to understand more about the drugs, and finding that synthetic cannabis is not even close to being the same drug as pot. Its name, which is utterly misleading, is where the similarity ends.
My number one goal with this site is to help inform people about the dangers of Spice – especially its addictive nature.