Just when we thought we had enough struggle with the real stuff, the synthetic weed rears its head. In neighboring Seabrook, NH, a local mom is fighting to legislate a ban against the sale of synthetic marijuana after losing her son and husband to these drugs.
Although real marijuana is readily available in the New England area, many people try to steer clear of it as it is still illegal. Synthetic marijuana, sold as “herbs”, incense or plant fertilizer has become an alternative for many seeking to get high. Sold in local smoke shops or easily available in the Internet, brands such as K2 or Spice have been reported to replicate the high of marijuana.
Unfortunately, the manufacturers of the synthetics utilize many different types of chemicals in their mixtures, some of them harmful. Reports from around the country confirm serious medical problems and even a few deaths have resulted from use of synthetic marijuana. Last month, Colorado reported over 150 people sickened by synthetic weed sold as “Spice”, “Crazy Clown” and “Dead Man Walking”. In Wyoming the year before , serious kidney damage was reported among a group of synthetic marijuana users.
“Synthetic marijuana is a designer drug in which herbs, incense or other leafy materials are sprayed with lab-synthesized liquid chemicals to mimic the effect of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in the naturally grown marijuana plant (cannabis sativa). Some synthesized compounds have been noted to be 100 times more potent than the average THC found in marijuana”.
Although the DEA banned the sale of some synthetic marijuana in 2012, the manufacturers have substituted other chemicals that have side stepped the ban. Spice abusers who have been taken to Poison Control Centers report symptoms that include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations. Spice can also raise blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart (myocardial ischemia), and in a few cases it has been associated with heart attacks. Regular users may experience withdrawal and addiction symptoms.
Although some users report a buzz similar to a marijuana high, most users report, at the minimum, a headache and some nausea. Although this does not sound like a very pleasant experience, this won’t stop some people, especially youngsters who like to experiment with trying it out despite the inherent dangers.