What the Heck is Synthetic Cannabis?
Synthetic marijuana compounds, also known as Spice or K2, can be found cheaply online and even at the corner store. But with devastating consequences, including seizures, psychosis and, yep, even death, this stuff will really cost you. So what the heck is synthetic cannabis, and why is it so problematic? The more you know, the wider of a berth you’ll give this stuff, so read on.
Synthetic Marijuana Compounds
First, the term itself is misleading, because these leafy greens aren’t actually cannabis. They’re sprayed with a bunch of worrisome, man-made chemicals that are designed to trigger the same cell receptors – CB1 and CB2 – to which THC binds. But the compounds of synthetic cannabis – more than 150, according to researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences – are not only structurally different than true cannabis, but even from each other.
And that means folks buying synthetic cannabis never really know what it is they’re buying. Even worse, these manufacturers are able to skirt the law by describing their products as an herbal blend, which sounds pretty darn innocuous. While some of the comp0unds found in synthetic cannabis have been made illegal, minor alterations to their chemical structure means manufacturers can semi-legally slip by.
The Scary Truth
So what are you really risking if you opt for a cheap bag of Spice? Early in the 2000s, ERs began treating more and more people who were experiencing side effects from smoking cannabis, or so they said. But the side effects were not at all related to what happens to the body with cannabis combustion.
Researchers theorize that synthetic cannabis activates the CB1 receptor far more than THC, which means much stronger, more intense effects. As these compounds break down, their byproducts continue triggering the CB1 receptor, which may increase the drug’s toxicity. And, other receptors may also be activated by the diverse structure of these compounds, which could be why there are so many adverse side effects, including:
Other cases have been put forth linking synthetic cannabis to anxiety, seizures, stroke, kidney damage, and even toxic shock.
Why Even Bother?
Don’t be tempted by promises that synthetic cannabis is safe, natural, and won’t show up on standard drug tests. This stuff is cheap in every sense of the word, and using it means risking your health and your life.
Clean weed is the way to go. Here in Nevada, dispensaries are required by law to keep lab test results for every product on the shelf. Get in the habit of asking for those results, querying budtenders for recommendations, and educating yourself about what you’re putting in your body. And spread the word – synthetic cannabis is bad news.