Some think that because cannabis isn’t legal in their states that a good substitute is synthetic cannabis. What they don’t realizes is that the synthetic cannabis can have deadly consequences. In this guide we’re going to explore how dangerous synthetic cannabis really is.
What is Synthetic Cannabis?
Synthetic cannabis is known as Spice or K2. It starts with a base plant material that is shredded. The plant material is laid out to dry. It’s then sprayed with a combination of different chemicals. The chemicals in each brand of synthetic cannabis are different, which is what makes them difficult to identify and treat effectively.
These chemicals are chosen because they interact with and activate CB1 receptors in the brain – which is the same receptor activated by cannabis use. The synthetic cannabinoids mimic what cannabis does, but go steps further in terms of psychoactivity than cannabis does.
In some cases, the synthetic cannabinoids are hundreds of times stronger per dose than the cannabinoids present in cannabis.
K2 and Spice are both illegal in the U.S. Their use, possession and sale are illegal.
Where do the Chemicals Come From?
Most of the chemicals used to manufacture K2 and Spice come from China. Labs in China concoct combinations of chemicals that react with the brain in a similar, but much more intense way than cannabis.
How are the synthetic cannabinoids so easy to obtain? It’s rather simple because most of the chemical combinations can be purchased online. They’re hard to detect during shipping because the chemical makeups of these drugs change frequently.
It’s even harder to detect these drugs because they come in either a syrup or powder form, with no easily detectable single chemical for drug sniffing dogs to alert on.
Potential Effects on the Brain
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) are classified as new psychoactive substances or NPS. These aren’t regulated by any federal or governmental agency. The brain reacts differently to each chemical combination used in synthetic cannabis. The effects are often unpredictable and resemble effects of other illicit drugs like PCP, LSD, crack and heroin.
A user may get used to a single brand, but the chemical makeup of each batch is likely to be different. This results in different effects being felt and increased damage to cognitive clarity, cognitive function and the ability to control one’s actions.
Much of the time, psychosis and altered perception are common effects. While these may be fun to experience, only extremely high doses of cannabis might produce similar effects. Psychosis creates delusional thoughts and detaches one’s perception of reality.
What’s even more dangerous for the brain is the perpetual paranoia and almost guaranteed hallucinations. Hallucinations are not common in cannabis use.
Convulsions are another potential side effect. A convulsive attack can leave the brain permanently damaged. Lifelong prescription medication to protect the brain and prevent additional seizures may be needed.
Some brain damage from the use of these synthetic cannabinoids can be permanent.
Effects on the Heart
The brain isn’t the only thing that is compromised by the use of synthetic cannabis. The heart can also be damaged, and may fail due to cardiac arrest. Spice and K2 are known to rapidly increase the heart rate, which can induce severe anxiety. This can cause a serious heart attack. Some cardiac events can be fatal.
Strokes can also occur, which affect multiple parts of the body including the brain and heart. Some function of one side of the body may also be retarded for an extended period of time, or may become permanent. Not everyone recovers fully from a stroke, there are often long-lasting residual effects of a stroke including problems with speech, difficulty thinking and mobility issues.
Possible Kidney Damage
The kidneys can also become damaged or even fail from the use of Spice and K2. In some cases, the damage cannot be prepared and a kidney transplant may be required. The list of those needing kidney transplants for non-drug abuse related issues is years long.
Other Potential Health Dangers
For those with depression and other mental health disorders, the use of Spice and K2 are especially dangerous. For example, if someone is bipolar and already suffers from irrational behavior, mania and other ups and downs – Spice and K2 can intensify those symptoms. These synthetic forms of cannabis can induce suicidal thoughts and extreme irrational behaviors. To the person using the drug, it seems fun at the time because they do not realize the real danger that they are in.
There is no way to predict what the effects of using Spice and K2 are as there is no consistency from batch to batch. The different groups of chemicals used always changes and there is no way to know exactly how someone will feel or react to these chemicals.
Violent behavior is another health danger, as this can put the user and others in significant danger.
Synthetic Cannabis is Not Cannabis
It is of the utmost importance that users of K2, Spice and other forms of synthetic cannabinoids understand that these products are not cannabis. The effects felt from these synthetic combinations are not indicative of using cannabis. You cannot overdose on cannabis, but you can overdose and die from an overdose of synthetic cannabis.
Sure, some cannabis strains may induce slight anxiety, paranoia or slightly increase the heart rate – but not to dangerous levels. Educating yourself on the strain you’re about to ingest tells you what to expect from that strain, and if there are effects listed that you wish to avoid – don’t use that strain. The human body is designed to accept natural cannabinoids from cannabis. It is not designed to work with synthetic cannabinoids comprised of combinations of different chemicals.
People die every day in the United States from using Spice and K2. While these synthetic products are cheaper than actual cannabis – their use can have deadly or permanent life-altering consequences. If you or someone you know is using Spice or K2 – stop or get them help. Spice and K2 are addicting, where natural cannabis is not. Cannabis does not kill. If using cannabis is a must for your improved health and well-being, relocation to a recreationally or medically legal state is a much better choice than using a synthetic form of cannabis that may end up taking your life.