Synthetic marijuana, or Spice, caused several deaths in the United States this year. With the number of people hospitalized and the lack of regulation, it is more important now than ever for people to learn what this drug is and what it does. Despite its name, it is almost nothing like real marijuana and is way more dangerous.
What Is Synthetic Marijuana?
Spice/K2/synthetic marijuana is a form of fake weed. Manufacturers spray manmade chemicals on plant materials. The drug is marketed as a cheap, natural, semi-legal alternative to pot. The truth is that the only natural part is the plant base. The chemicals that produce the high are completely synthetic. These chemicals are supposed to impersonate the effects of THC. Though that is the intent, the actual chemical makeup of Spice has very little resemblance to THC. Spice is one of the new psychoactive substances. These drugs are manufactured hallucinogens created to imitate illegal drugs.
Scientists developed these chemicals in the 1950s when they were researching chemical effects on the brain. Currently, China develops and exports the chemicals, which are sold in the US as Spice, K2, and herbal incense. The exact chemical recipe for Spice is constantly changing. About two dozen chemicals in Spice have become illegal in the last few years. Manufacturers responded by changing the molecule to create the same effects without those chemicals. As a result, buyers can’t be certain what they are buying, and there are very few research studies about Spice available, so it is difficult to regulate or police. Spice has been available in corner stores for several years.
What Does K2 Do?
There is not enough information about the chemicals in synthetic cannabinoids for officials to have a complete and thorough list of side effects. Most of the information on Spice is collected from people who used the drug, many of whom ended up in the hospital. The constantly changing chemical recipe is dangerous and a difficult challenge for researchers and doctors to work around. Typical drug tests do not test for synthetic marijuana, for this reason. People in recovery or struggling with addiction may turn to synthetic marijuana as an alternative that will not show up on their drug tests. This often leads to relapse and further substance abuse. Synthetic marijuana can be up to 85 times stronger than natural marijuana.
Effects Of Spice
People smoke Spice in plant form and as an e-liquid for electronic cigarettes. Users experience elevated mood, relaxation, altered perception and awareness of surroundings, detachment from reality, and delusional or distorted thinking. These effects are like those of real marijuana.
Negative Psychotic Effects Of Spice
Anxiety, confusion, paranoia, and hallucinations are all side effects of Spice. These effects are also like real marijuana, but in synthetic marijuana, these effects are more intense and can cause irrational behavior.
Dangerous Effects Of Spice
People go to the hospital with rapid heart rate, vomiting, suicidal thoughts, seizures, strokes, and heart attacks, as side effects of Spice. There are instances of some people being hospitalized after bouts of violent outbursts and erratic behavior.
Withdrawal Effects Of Spice
Synthetic marijuana is an addictive substance. Users feel withdrawal symptoms once they quit using it. Withdrawal symptoms include headaches, anxiety, depression, and irritability. Synthetic marijuana is a difficult drug to study and there are few rehabilitation centers that specialize in its withdrawal. The detoxification process differs greatly from person to person, depending on the regularity and amount they use. The detox process can be dangerous, depending on the batch of synthetic marijuana, with its ever-changing ingredients.
Recent Issues With Spice
Recent batches of Spice tested positive for a form of rat poison called brodifacoum. This added a new host of dangerous effects and created deadly batches of synthetic marijuana. Spice laced with this and other dangerous chemicals caused an outbreak this year of deaths and hospitalizations. Using Spice laced with rat poison can cause severe bleeding. People seek medical attention because they’re coughing up blood, have unexplained bruising, blood in urine or feces, excessive bloody nose, bleeding gums, and heavy menstruation.
This form of rat poison is an anticoagulant, meaning the blood does not clot. There are theories that manufacturers use rat poison in Spice recipes with the intent of prolonging the high. There are multiple reports of people ingesting rat poison to extend the high of marijuana or cocaine. This, however, is just a theory. Officials have not yet ruled out malicious intent.
This year, four people died from complications after using synthetic marijuana, and 153 people had been hospitalized as of the end of April. Most of the outbreaks happened in Illinois, though increasingly cases are popping up all over the country. There is a fear that the bad batch will get into the hands of teenagers who buy Spice as a cheap alternative to marijuana.
People poisoned with rat poison can recover with six months or more of vitamin K supplements. This is an expensive treatment because people need to take it for so long to get the body back to normal activity. The need for extra vitamin K is putting a strain on the state medical expenses, though some pharmaceutical companies donated pills to combat the epidemic.
Synthetic Marijuana Dangers
Spice is an unregulated and dangerous drug. It is addictive and highly potent. The most dangerous aspect of Spice is that the chemical recipe is constantly changing. Buyers do not know what they are ingesting from one time to another. Just because the last instance did not end with dangerous consequences doesn’t mean the next time won’t. People need to be aware that even if they believe this won’t happen to them because they trust their dealers, or they have not heard of anyone going to the hospital for Spice, it can still happen to anyone. Even without rat poison, synthetic marijuana can result in hospitalizations or deaths.