There are synthetic marijuana substitutes and synthetic cannabinoids such as Kronic, Karma, K2 or Spice, and Voodoo. These are marketed as “legal” and “safe” alternatives to real marijuana, and as something that cannot be detected in a standard drug test. Moreover, synthetic marijuana is also presented as a mix of plants and herbs.
But are they really safe? Are they really legal? And are they really natural, and made from harmless plants and herbs? NO, they are not.
Why is synthetic marijuana not safe?
What many people do not know is that these plants and herbs are merely sprayed with chemicals made in a laboratory. These chemicals have been designed to produce the same kind of “high” as the THC component found in real marijuana. So in effect, synthetic marijuana is really just plants sprayed with man-developed chemicals.
Moreover, the reason why synthetic marijuana or synthetic cannabinoids are not detectable in a standard drug screening for THC is because they are completely different molecules. And these molecules are also potentially dangerous.
According to a new review of studies, these synthetic marijuana compounds can produce various dangerous chronic and acute adverse side effects, and these side effects even have greater frequency and severity than the ones observed after the use of real marijuana.
In their review, the researchers wrote that these compounds have been linked to several serious side effects like gastrointestinal, neurological, renal, and cardiovascular toxicities, as well as dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal. These side effects can be manifested through psychosis, stroke, seizures, or even death, among many others.
Additionally, the chemicals that are sprayed on synthetic marijuana are classified as “research chemicals” and thus have not been approved as suitable for human consumption. This is why the side effects are unpredictable, and long-term damage is still unknown. The fact that different people react to synthetics in different ways should also be taken into consideration.
Furthermore, studies have found that synthetic marijuana compounds are designed to activate CB1 and CB2, which are receptors in the body that THC binds to. These compounds have the tendency to activate the CB1 receptor to a higher degree than THC does. This suggests that these synthetic compounds can induce effects that are far more intense.
What’s more, these compounds get broken down inside the body, and their by-products have the ability to activate CB1. This may contribute to a higher toxicity of the drugs. And because of these compounds’ diverse structures, they could also activate other receptors in the body besides CB1 and CB2.
Scientists, however, find it difficult to identify the specific chemicals that are found in K2 or Spice because “synthetic cannabinoids” actually includes more than 700 different chemicals. The list of chemical components also varies in different brands.
When it started
Synthetic marijuana was first sold in the early 2000s. And according to cellular and molecular pharmacologist Paul Prather of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, that’s also when they started seeing all sorts of people coming into the ER complaining of bizarre symptoms after smoking “marijuana.” These symptoms, he says, did not correspond with the known effects of marijuana.
Is synthetic marijuana really legal?
In the United States, many kinds of synthetic cannabis compounds are illegal. However, clandestine manufacturers still continue to come up with new compounds that are covered by the existing laws and are not always detected by drug tests.
Meanwhile, in Australia, they were legal at first or at least can be tested for in drug tests. However, due to its adverse effects, these synthetic marijuana compounds have become illegal in the country and in all its states.
Needless to say, more studies need to be conducted on synthetic marijuana compounds. A lot of countries still have no legislation and measurements in place with regard to these substances.