Of all the negative consequences from decades of cannabis prohibition, one of the most dangerous is the rise of synthetic cannabis. Not to be confused with synthetic THC in therapeutic drugs like Marinol, synthetic cannabis is a cocktail of nasty chemicals that can produce a range of dangerous effects.
Also known as “K2” or “spice,” those living in areas where cannabis is illegal might be tempted to try it as a legal alternative to mimic the effects of real cannabis. But we are warning you to stay far away from it. Here’s why you should never use synthetic cannabis.
What Is Spice?
A product that often comes with a label reading “not for human consumption,” Spice is a synthetic cannabinoid that binds to the same receptors as THC. The history of Spice began back in the 80s when researchers were trying to understand cannabinoid mechanisms. The research involved synthesizing hundreds of cannabinoids, but after it was published in 2008, one of the synthesized cannabinoids, called JWH-018, ended up being sold in smoke shops and across the internet as a form of legal weed.
Is it Really That Dangerous?
Yes. The risks of experiencing adverse side effects from smoking Spice or vaping K2 are pretty high. The problem with Spice is that it can be up to 100 times stronger than THC. While some people report pleasant effects, many users commonly experience dangerous effects like chest pain, vomiting, blackouts, kidney damage, psychosis, and seizures just to name a few. Another side effect that’s unlike real cannabis is that Spice has a high potential to cause addiction and horrific withdrawal symptoms.
The reason the effects of spice are so unpredictable is that there is no way to know what you are actually getting. Synthetic cannabinoids are usually made in China and then shipped to manufacturers who mix them with solvents. They spray the concoction onto plantlike material that looks like marijuana to be sold and smoked. So much can go wrong in this process and it’s not uncommon to buy Spice with chemical “hot spots” from a bad spray-job, causing the customer to overdose.
The DEA is trying to crack down on Spice because the chemicals in this drug have a high potential for abuse and there is no known medical benefit. While many of the active chemicals found in Spice have been made illegal, manufacturers of these products try to side-step the laws by continually creating new mixtures with different chemicals. There are currently over 700 synthetic cannabinoids, with new ones being developed every month.
It’s often disguised as incense and marketed as “natural” to trick customers into believing it is harmless when in reality you are buying a product that was probably mixed with nail polish. The unpredictable effects of these “herbal incenses” have even led to death.
The Bottom line?
Don’t go near this stuff. It isn’t cannabis and poses too many risks. No matter how tempting it might be to try a little, especially if you are unable to access legal cannabis, stay away. It’s not worth it. Whether you’re wondering “what is spice” or thinking “how bad can it really be if I can buy it a gas station,” know that it’s not worth the trouble — or your health.
Want to know where to buy real, high-quality cannabis? Find a Have a Heart location near you below.