In recent decades, there’s been a sharp increase in the prevalence of synthetic cannabis. And although the stuff is chemically similar to the cannabinoids found in real cannabis, it is nothing like the real stuff. Synthetic cannabis is incredibly dangerous. If you’re trying to enjoy the high of good, natural weed then you should absolutely avoid synthetic cannabis. To do that, you need to know how to tell the difference between the two. Here’s how.
Synthetic Cannabis 101: A Brief Introduction
Scientists created synthetic cannabis when they wanted to study cannabinoids, but faced too many legal hurdles getting real cannabis. Since then, the artificial cannabinoids made in research labs have surfaced on the streets in the form of synthetic weed.
It’s usually marketed as “potpourri” or “incense” and it often goes by names like K2, Spice, and Black Mamba. Synthetic cannabis is usually sold an assortment of ground up legal herbs that have been sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids.
The problem is that consuming these chemicals can be super dangerous. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that synthetic cannabinoids “may affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana; their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, severe or even life-threatening.”
A person who’s consumed synthetic cannabinoids may experience any of the following:
- increased heart rate
- kidney damage
- violent and erratic behavior
- suicidal thoughts
Similarly, The Global Drug Survey found that synthetic weed was “more likely to lead to emergency medical treatment than any other drug.” As proof, consider that from April 2015 to September 2015, New York had more than 4,700 emergency room visits as a result of synthetic cannabis.
More recently, a handful of British cities have seen an outbreak of synthetic cannabis. Described as behaving like zombies, people who use the stuff end up experiencing all sorts of horrible reactions. In fact, just this past April, a homeless man in Birmingham died after using Black Mamba.
Long story short: synthetic cannabis is not real cannabis. It’s very dangerous and you should avoid smoking it.
How To Tell The Difference
Fortunately, it’s not very difficult to tell the difference between synthetic cannabis and real cannabis. A quick inspection should tell you everything you need to know to determine if you’re dealing with the real stuff or the fake stuff.
What Does It Look Like?
Start off with what it looks like. Real weed should always be sold as whole buds. But fake weed almost always comes in little packets of ground-up plant material.
On top of that, synthetic weed usually has a mix of different plants in it. So if anyone tries to sell pre-ground herb, and it looks like there’s more than one type of plant in it, do not buy it or smoke it. Odds are it’s fake.
What Does It Smell Like?
If you’ve ever used cannabis, you know what it smells like. It has one of the most unique and distinctive odors in the world. Synthetic cannabis does not smell like real cannabis.
Synthetic weed typically has a weird odor. It’s a mix of the chemically smell of the synthetic cannabinoids and whatever random plant matter was used. Beyond that, fake weed is very often flavored. If it smells like some sort of strange flavor, don’t trust it.
Who Are You Buying It From?
You’ve got to know your source. If you live in a weed-legal state, stick with reputable dispensaries. A good dispensary would never sell people synthetic cannabis.
If you buy from a dealer or some other source, be sure it’s someone you trust. If it’s your first time buying from them, try to get a recommendation from a friend. Just like a reliable dispensary, any dealer who wants to stay in business won’t mess with synthetic cannabis. So buy from a trusted source and you should be fine.
The Final Hit
Synthetic cannabis is most often sold the way we’ve been describing it, as mulched-up herbs that are supposed to look kind of like real weed. But you should also know that the stuff is sometimes added to cannabis concentrates. Similarly, it can also show up in vape juice.
Some of these other forms can be harder to detect. That’s why you need to be careful about where you are buying your stuff. Any dealer or dispensary that wants to grow their business won’t mess with this sh*t. It’s too obvious when a person has smoked synthetic weed, and it’s just too dangerous.
If you keep a sharp eye out for the signs we covered above, and if you are careful about who you’re buying from, you should not have any problems.
And if you for some reason want to try synthetic cannabis, think twice. The stuff once hospitalized 33 people in Brooklyn in a single day. Just use real weed. It will give you a more enjoyable high and it’s much safer.
In fact, you’re 30 times less likely to end up needing medical attention when you puff real, all-natural cannabis. And beyond that, it’s basically impossible to overdose on real weed. So stick with genuine sticky icky, and puff away with confidence.