Over the past few decades, there has been a rise in the number of cannabinoid alternatives or synthetic weed. In fact, synthetic marijuanaF use is on the rise in places where cannabis is illegal. As a result, people have been hospitalized from fake pot in countries like England, New Zealand and the United States. We’ll go over exactly what this stuff is and what it does to your body.
What Is Synthetic Marijuana?
Synthetic marijuana is called many things including K2 and spice. It was created by researchers who wanted to study cannabis but could not due to the illegal status.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “synthetic cannabinoids can have more powerful effects on the brain, and can lead to death.” Anytime it becomes illegal the formula is chemically changed to create a legal derivative in its place.
In 2011, the DEA made some of the chemical compounds typically found in synthetic marijuana Schedule I. However, that hasn’t done much to stop the use or distribution. In fact, from April 2015 to September 2015 there were over 4,700 K2-related emergency room visits in New York alone.
Fake Marijuana, Real Consequences
Head shops sell “incense” or “potpourri, ” but it’s actually dried legal herbs sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids.
Those who are thinking of trying it can expect some real consequences. Synthetic marijuana once hospitalized more than 30 people from one Brooklyn neighborhood in a single day. The city is constantly dealing with K2 outbreaks over half a decade after its decriminalization.
So, what does it do to your body? We assume most of the people ingesting fake pot are doing it for an elevated mood or relaxation. While those are possible effects, here are many worse ones to consider.
In fact, you can experience extreme anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, and paranoia. What if we told you those weren’t even the worst side effects? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most worrisome side effects include:
- Rapid Heart Rate
- Kidney Damage
- Violent Behavior
- Suicidal Thoughts
The Global Drug Survey of 2016 found “synthetic cannabinoids more likely to lead to emergency medical treatment than any other drug.”
Is There A Solution?
There is evidence that suggests treating real marijuana differently could slow down the prevalent use of synthetic marijuana.
People who can’t find real marijuana are one of the most likely groups to smoke the fake stuff. Legalizing marijuana would provide those people with a safer alternative. In fact, New Zealand legalized safer synthetic cannabinoids to reduce the harm it has been doing to their country. The decision lead to a 75 percent reduction in the number of synthetic drugs on the market. Furthermore, 95% of retailers stopped selling the products.
Those getting drug screened are among the most likely to purchase and use spice. Fortunately, there is a simple solution, and it starts by undoing the discrimination against cannabis users in the workforce.
A report by the New York City Department of Health has suggested removing cannabis from drug screening. In fact, they say removing marijuana “has the potential to reduce the escalating health, safety, and cost burdens associated with use.”
Synthetic marijuana has proven to be a global epidemic that needs to be stopped. If the DEA allowed for more research on cannabis the people who made it would never have had a reason to make it. Unfortunately, there’s no undoing that or the original decision to ban marijuana. However, legalizing the real stuff could be the key to combatting the use of harmful alternatives. Compared to synthetic marijuana, real cannabis is 30 times less likely to lead to a trip to the emergency room.