Synthetic Marijuana Use in NCAA
Synthetic marijuana seems to be making sports page headlines recently, with Patriots linebacker Chandler Jones hospitalized this past Sunday after an adverse reaction to synthetic marijuana, according to Boston Globe columnist Christopher Gasper.
The details are weird.
Last month, Clay Travis reported that Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche’s fall from a fourth-floor window occurred under the influence of the designer drug.
Synthetic marijuana is a chimerical, man-made substance, comprised of chemicals, which, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse are “called cannabinoids because they are related to chemicals found in the marijuana plant.”
So they’re cannabinoid-oid compounds that react with the body like THC. Some of them even bind more strongly than marijuana to the cell receptors affected by THC.
But the doses can be so intense that harsh reactions can occur, ranging from extreme anxiety, confusion, and paranoia, to hallucinations, rapid heart rate, vomiting, violent behavior, suicidal thoughts, headaches, and depression.
Considering how awful that sounds, why would athletes, or anyone, use this instead of regular weed? And how long has this been going on?
A 2013 ESPN investigation alleged that the 2010 national champion Auburn Tigers were gripped by a synthetic weed “epidemic,” in which 12 players tested positive, though the results were kept confidential.
In 2014, Kellen Winslow was allegedly in possession of synthetic marijuana during his, um, incident in a Target parking lot.
“Players not in the substance-abuse program are tested once per year during a window that opens on 4/20 (seriously) and lasts until August,” PFT’s Mike Florio told reporters with ESPN.
“Once tested, a player who passes will not be tested again until the following year. Unless he gets arrested for a marijuana-related offense or a bag of it falls out of his jacket in the presence of a league official, he can’t get caught.”
The question is whether the apparent increase in incidents related to synthetic marijuana should cause the NFL and NCAA to be more vigilant.
If synthetic weed is indeed as dangerous as advertised, and players are turning to it because they think they’ll pass a piss test, one sensible solution would be complete and total decriminalization of natural marijuana. To its credit, the NCAA is actually moving in this direction.