27 Oct 2014
Of all the arguments against decriminalizing cannabis and the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes, the one that many have failed to discuss is the possibility of increased access to synthetic marijuana. This lab-produced cannabis has been popular with young people for many years. Although law enforcement has cracked down on synthetic products and lawmakers have tried to outlaw them, synthetic marijuana is making a comeback. Everyone, especially parents of teens and pre-teens, need to know about this drug and how dangerous it is.
What Is Synthetic Marijuana?
Synthetic marijuana, or synthetic cannabis, is a product made in a lab. It is not natural, but it is supposed to mimic the natural cannabis plant. Cannabis contains thousands of compounds, called cannabinoids, which produce the mind-altering effects people seek when smoking pot. There are many ways in which these compounds can be mimicked with lab-made compounds. Many of the fake compounds have been ruled illegal, but the manufacturers can still come up with more options, keeping their products technically legal.
Synthetic Marijuana Dangers
One of the main reasons these synthetic products are so dangerous is because the user never knows exactly what he is getting. Because the product changes so much, it is impossible to know what is in it. In addition to the cannabis-like compounds, there may be any number of other chemicals, and even herbs used to look like dried marijuana. Users have been made very ill from using synthetic products, while some have become addicted and some have even died.
Side Effects Of Synthetic Marijuana
The side effects of synthetic marijuana vary because of the unknown composition of the products, and they can range from mild to severe to fatal. Some of these side effects include:
- severe anxiety
- high blood pressure
- rapid heart rate
- muscle spasms
- suicidal thoughts
- heart attack
Synthetic cannabis has also been seen to cause withdrawal symptoms in frequent users and it can become addictive.
While the use of synthetic marijuana products has dropped overall as laws changed to try to outlaw them, they are making a comeback. One reason may be the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes. These are electronic devices that allow users to “vape” rather than smoke nicotine. They were designed to help smokers quit, but are increasingly being abused. E-cigarettes use vials of liquid with dissolved nicotine. Users exhale only water vapor. Those abusing them are using synthetic cannabinoids in the vials instead of nicotine in order to get a high. The scary thing is that the exhalation doesn’t smell like anything. The user can get high anywhere without anyone realizing it.
Latest Concern Of Synthetic Marijuana
Synthetic marijuana for e-cigarettes is just the latest concern when it comes to synthetic cannabis products. These products have been around for at least a decade and while their popularity was waning, teens are getting back into using them. Synthetic marijuana is no safer than it has ever been and both parents and teens need to be aware of the risks.
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The effects of synthetic marijuana are as varied as the substances that make up this broad category of drugs. Makers of synthetic marijuana products attempt to create something that is legal and that also mimics the active compounds in cannabis. Of course, most of these manufacturers are more interested in profits than safety and the ill effects of using them are multiple. Popular with young people, these products have finally come to the attention of lawmakers who have attempted to put a stop to their sale. Drug makers always find a way around the laws, however, so it is important for parents and other adults to be aware of synthetic marijuana and how harmful it can be.
What Is Synthetic Marijuana?
Fortunately for public health, most of these products have been outlawed, but they have not gone away. Marijuana comes from a plant called cannabis. It contains thousands of natural compounds, some of which have mind-altering abilities. It is for these compounds, called cannabinoids, that people smoke marijuana. They give the user a pleasant, sleepy, relaxed feeling. As a mind-altering, psychoactive product, marijuana is illegal in most places.
In an attempt to profit from the demand for marijuana, manufacturers have developed products that contain synthetic versions of the natural cannabinoids. They spray the formula onto some type of dried plant and sell it as incense, potpourri or even cleaners. These products are labeled in a way that makes it seem as if it is not a drug to be smoked. Of course, the intention is exactly that. Young people are enticed to buy it and smoke it, and then they suffer the synthetic marijuana side effects.
How Is Synthetic Marijuana Dangerous?
Real marijuana poses health risks, but the synthetic versions can be even more harmful. The main problem is that you can never be sure what is in the product. Marijuana is a natural product that is dried to be smoked. Synthetic versions may contain a whole host of compounds that the makers do not reveal. Some of the synthetic marijuana health effects that have been seen in users include anxiety, paranoia, shaking, emotional instability, hallucinations, panic attacks, dizziness, hot flashes and convulsions.
After too many teens and young adults were harmed from using synthetic marijuana products, lawmakers took action to ban the substances used to make them. Unfortunately, there are almost infinite possibilities when it comes to making synthetic variations of cannabinoids. When one substance is banned, drug manufacturers simply come up with another one. In most states, you can no longer buy the products that were disguised as potpourri or herbal smoking blends, but that does not mean synthetic marijuana has disappeared. Some people are still using it and are experiencing the ill effects. Be aware of this lab-produced drug and make sure that your children understand its risks.
Learn More About Synthetic Drugs And Their Dangers!
There is something about the name “synthetic marijuana” that sounds safe. If traditional marijuana is potentially dangerous with risk for abuse, not to mention illegal, certainly the synthetic should be the healthy or at least harmless alternative, right? Not so fast. Read on to educate yourself about synthetic marijuana side effects and dangers.
What Is Synthetic Marijuana?
Synthetic marijuana is one substance from a family of what are known as “designer drugs.” Instead of marijuana in its natural plant form, this is a lab-created product intended to reproduce the high associated with marijuana. By creating a synthetic form of marijuana, producers, dealers and users believed they had landed on a product that would escape government sanction as well as urinalysis.
Known as K2 and spice, synthetic marijuana contains natural herbs that have been sprayed with a cannabinoid substance. While the pot-like high that the drug produces is due to the effect on the body of the same kinds of chemicals found in natural THC, it is not the same. And it is certainly not safer.
Side Effects And Dangers Of Synthetic Marijuana
The effects of synthetic marijuana will, to some degree, mimic traditional marijuana, but with some unique and often unintended consequences. For reasons not completely understood, the effect of smoking marijuana in its natural leaf form is distinct from smoking herbs sprayed with the chemicals contained within marijuana. This has led producers, users and scientists to conclude that there is more to the high and effect of traditional marijuana than the cannibinoids present in THC.
There are several synthetic marijuana dangers that users and potential users are often unaware of. Many individuals will use the drug expecting the results they are accustomed to with traditional marijuana. But with synthetic marijuana, the high is often more potent and completely unpredictable.
The side effects and dangers of synthetic marijuana that many do not anticipate, and that are rarely associated with the use of traditional marijuana, may include:
- various forms of psychosis
- heart attack
even in users who are young and in otherwise good health.
Synthetic weed also carries risk because of the mystery that surrounds its composition. The blend is not proprietary and each blend that a user obtains may contain any mix of unknown chemicals in unknown quantities, producing vastly different results from one high to the next. It is also especially difficult for medical professionals to treat overdoses and adverse effects given that the chemicals contained within the mixture the patient has taken may be unknown and unpredictable.
Synthetic marijuana is not a safe product and its use carries great risk. If you or someone you know struggles with addiction to synthetic marijuana or you are concerned about your use, do not delay in seeking help. Synthetic marijuana is not a harmless, legal substitute for an illegal drug; it carries dangers and side effects that may be far more severe than the drug it was designed to mimic. Withdrawal symptoms can also be powerful and unanticipated and for this reason it is recommended that users and addicts seek the care and supervision of a medical professional and/or a drug rehabilitation treatment program to safely get off and stay off synthetic marijuana.
Find Out How Synthetic Marijuana Use Is Rising Among Troops
24 Jun 2014
Synthetic marijuana dangers are very real and very serious. Although law enforcement has been able to crack down on much of the product, and policy makers have enacted laws to cut back on it, synthetic marijuana is still floating around on the illicit drug market. Many people believe that marijuana is a low-risk drug, especially as attitudes and laws regarding it begin to change. The real drug has its risks and harms, and so does the synthetic version. The truth behind this drug substitute is that it can cause real harm and can lead to addiction.
How Does Synthetic Marijuana Differ From The Real Thing?
Real marijuana is the dried leaves, stems and seeds of a plant called cannabis. The plant contains psychoactive compounds called cannabinoids. Manufacturers of synthetic marijuana attempt to create compounds in a laboratory that are similar enough to the natural cannabinoids to give users the same high as the natural product. There are thousands of natural compounds and even more possibilities for synthetic alternatives. Most synthetic products consist of some type of dried plant material sprayed with a liquid containing the lab-made compounds.
What Are The Health Effects Of Synthetic Marijuana?
When smoked, many of these synthetic products have a similar effect as natural marijuana. They can cause sleepiness and a pleasant sense of relaxation and happiness. Smoking real marijuana poses certain health risks, including aggravating or contributing to lung conditions. The synthetic products can be even more harmful. The reason for this is that the makers do not list everything that comes in their product. There could be any number of dangerous chemicals in it and not knowing what you are smoking is very risky.
Users have reported:
- panic attacks
- hot flashes
- periods of emotional instability
Is Synthetic Marijuana Addictive?
Marijuana is not one of the most addictive of all drugs, but it can be habit-forming, especially when used regularly and frequently. Users of synthetic products also report experiencing withdrawal and cravings when they try to stop. For this often-dubbed gateway drug, rehab is a solution to addiction. Even when an addiction is not full blown, it can be helpful to go through some kind of rehab.
A successful drug rehab program, whether for synthetic marijuana or the natural drug, is one that develops individualized treatment plans for each patient. It should be staffed by caring professionals who are experienced at working with addicts and qualified to do so. The plan should be adaptable to change with the needs of the patient.
Once you know the truth about synthetic marijuana, you will not be tempted to try this harmful drug. Its manufacturers and sellers have gone to great lengths to convince buyers that this product is mostly safe and carries a low risk. Don’t fall for the lies.
Find Out Why ER Visits For Synthetic Marijuana Are Likely To Rise
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Synthetic marijuana is often sold at gas stations with the promise of producing a high similar to that experienced with the real thing. Unfortunately there are many negative health consequences related to its use, and with law enforcement unable to control its distribution, authorities have issued an alert that hospitals should prepare for an influx of synthetic marijuana cases.
Preparations For Increased ER Visits Need To Begin
A recent editorial warned that the number of emergency room visits related to synthetic marijuana has increased in Colorado in recent months. The researchers warn that more will follow, and preparations for such an increase should be a priority. The research was conducted by a team from the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment became concerned during late 2013 when they learned of the dramatic increase of visits related to synthetic marijuana use in Denver emergency rooms.
Physical Complaints Of Synthetic Marijuana
Between August 21 and September 19 there were 263 individuals treated in Denver emergency rooms complaining of altered mental state, seizures and an irregular heartbeat. Among these patients, approximately ten percent required admission to an intensive care unit to receive breathing assistance with a ventilator.
Alternate “Innocent-Sounding” Names Of Synthetic Marijuana
Sold under the guise of labels such as incense, herbal smoking blend or potpourri, synthetic marijuana is often peddled in gas stations with brand names such as K2 or Spice. The product is a mixture of plant-based materials, such as dried herbs and spices that are then sprayed with a combination of chemicals that mimics the high of natural marijuana.
Dangerous And Damaging Effects Of Synthetic Marijuana Compared To Natural Marijuana
What troubles public health officials, as well as the researchers involved in this study, is that synthetic marijuana can produce effects that are significantly more potent than those experienced with the use of natural marijuana. In fact, the packaging on synthetic marijuana often warns against human consumption.
Lead author of the study, Andrew Monte, MD, an assistant professor in emergency medicine and medical toxicology at CU School of Medicine, says that its availability masks how dangerous they are. The chemicals in synthetic marijuana can be up to 1,000 times stronger in their binding to cannabis receptors compared to natural marijuana.
The synthetic products can have damaging effects on serotonin levels and other similar types of receptors in the brain. This can lead to strokes, seizures and delirium which require lifesaving measures.
Manufacturers Of Synthetic Marijuana Are Trying To Stay Ahead Of The Law
Synthetic marijuana is not legal, but manufacturers are always working to stay ahead of regulations. Chemical mixes and package design are constantly being altered to slip by the law. The last five years have seen a significant increase in synthetic marijuana use.
Monte says that the outbreaks of emergency treatments related to synthetic marijuana use are likely to continue. He calls for a better way to test the presence of the chemicals, as well as improved communication between medical facilities and public health officials when outbreaks occur.
Determining the substances contained in synthetic marijuana often includes the services of Poison Control. However, when outbreaks occur, it impacts not only the resources of the hospital involved, but also those of the public health departments, environment, law enforcement officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
25 Dec 2013
The chemical make-up of synthetic drugs are in a continuous state of flux, means their effects aren’t predictable and correct emergency treatment can be difficult. Those in law enforcement are often handcuffed in terms of prosecution because these substances can be modified to slip through current drug laws. Now there’s a group that’s trying to tighten the net.
The National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NAMSDL) want to stop the proliferation of synthetic drugs, which are the second most commonly used illicit drug among young people, according to a 2012 Monitoring the Future survey. One out of every nine high school seniors reported having used synthetic drugs within the past year.
How And Why The Recipes Of Synthetic Drugs Keeps Changing
Synthetic drugs can be either man-made marijuana (cannabinoids) or chemicals related to amphetamines (cathinones). The synthetic marijuana, often sold under the names K2 or Spice, are plant materials resembling potpourri that are sprayed with chemicals that mimic THC, the psychoactive agent in marijuana. But the recipe keeps changing in order to evade prosecution.
In 2012 the federal government made synthetic drugs, also known as novel psychoactive drugs, illegal. But the law defines the drugs narrowly. Once those who make the drugs tweak the recipe, the new compound no longer fits within the narrow definition of synthetic drugs. To further complicate the matter, the substances are often sold as bath salts, incense or plant food with a label saying they’re not intended for human consumption.
How The Spread Of Synthetic Drugs Is Trying To Be Halted
What NAMSDL wants to do is work with state lawmakers to make classes of substances illegal, rather than specific chemical combinations. The laws could give examples of what some of those substances might look like, but would leave room so that potential new chemical compounds would be illegal. That would certainly speed things up for law enforcement that now must often wait a year and a half before each new synthetic drug compound is banned.
NAMSDL also wants to enhance communication between those who see the changing drug landscape firsthand. The Drug Enforcement Agency currently collects and disseminates drug information to concerned parties, but it’s hospital emergency rooms, poison control centers and law enforcement that sees what’s going on in real time. This would help keep the information on synthetic substances truly up-to-date
Synthetic Drug Education And Prevention
NAMSDL is working directly with the Office of National Drug Control Policy and others to create an effective education and prevention campaign aimed at informing moms, dads, emergency room staff and school administrators about what these drugs are and what they do. Education, information flow and improved legislation represent a 360 degree effort on closing the gaps and halting the flow of these dangerous drugs.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, synthetic marijuana is now second to only cannabis in terms of popularity. Users can achieve similar effects to natural marijuana, but the risks are multiplied.
A stroke and smoking spice study by University of Southern Florida researchers involved two young and healthy siblings that experienced acute ischemic strokes soon after smoking spice, also known as K2. Ischemic strokes occur when an artery to the brain becomes blocked.
Dangerous Side Effects Of Synthetic Pot
- Heart arrhythmia
- Heart attacks
Senior author W. Scott Burgin, M.D., professor of neurology at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Tampa General Hospital, said that there was some concern that the siblings could share a genetic proclivity to stroke. However, the physicians checked carefully for such a situation and did not find any genetic clues.
The researchers say the siblings experienced heart-derived strokes and that the brothers had no heart-related health problems, and that more investigation is needed to understand the potential connection between synthetic marijuana and stroke.
Properties Of Synthetic Marijuana
Synthetic marijuana is a mixture of herbal plant materials resembling potpourri that are coated with a chemical mixture intended to mimic the effects of cannabis. The mixture can be significantly more potent than cannabis because the psychoactive ingredient binds directly to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain.
The dangers of using synthetic marijuana also lies in its composition, which includes chemicals that have not been tested. Additionally, because the drug is not regulated, there is no consistency in the types or amounts of chemicals used. Dr. Burgin explains that consumers that purchase synthetic marijuana are taking a gamble with their health and their brain.
In Florida, any activities connected to selling, delivering or possession of synthetic marijuana is a third-degree felony. It’s difficult to purchase the drug at a brick-and-mortar establishment, but the drug is still available for Internet purchase.
The authors of the study urge physicians to be more aware of the potential problems associated with synthetic marijuana. When an otherwise healthy young person is treated for a stroke or heart attack, the patient should be asked about drug use. Patients will not generally volunteer drug use information and synthetic marijuana does not appear in a drug test.
Meanwhile, an editorial appearing alongside the USF findings cautions physicians that these case studies represent only two instances of stroke associated with synthetic marijuana use, even as the drug is becoming more widely used.
However, John C.M. Brust, M.D., professor of clinical neurology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, notes that because marijuana is tied to ischemic stroke, and synthetic marijuana tends to only amplify the risks seen with natural cannabis, it is likely that strokes will be seen more often in emergency rooms.
Read More About The Problems And Dangers Of Synthetic Marijuana
For nearly a quarter century now the state of Indiana has been conducting a youth substance use survey. The data is used to direct prevention and intervention strategies and to gauge how well those efforts are working. The most recent annual survey of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, the Indiana Youth Survey 2013, reflects current trends in teen behaviors and attitudes and shows that some interventions are proving successful.
The survey questioned 117,554 teens from private and public schools attending grades six through senior in high school. The survey is conducted in conjunction with the Indiana Prevention Resource Center who makes resources available to schools and communities aimed at curbing teen substance abuse.
Use of marijuana by teens (12 to 17 years) hit an all-time high in the state between 2008 and 2011. The good news is that the most recent survey shows that marijuana use is now falling among teens there. However, while marijuana use is dropping, its use is still seen as too high, and synthetic marijuana use is an increasing concern.
Synthetic Marijuana Use Dangerously Increasing
Synthetic marijuana is just what it sounds like — a man-made substance that mimics marijuana. It is made by drying plant material and then spraying it with chemicals which mirror the effects of marijuana and THC. The plant material is then chopped and marketed in stores as incense, but kids roll it and smoke it just like natural marijuana. In fact, the survey shows that teens are not substituting fake marijuana for real marijuana but are using the two drugs simultaneously.
This year’s survey included new questions related to risk factors and protective factors that influence teen drug use. Questions pertaining to the health of relationships and attitudes reveal the degree of risk or protection teens are experiencing. The attitudes of parents and friends about drug use influences teens greatly, as do how well relationships at home, school and among peers are faring.
Prescription Drug Abuse
The survey found that prescription drug abuse increases with age. Less than two percent of sixth graders reported abusing prescription drugs, but more than 14 percent of seniors admitted using. The survey was specific in asking teens if they bought prescription drugs from friends or obtained them from family members. Since a major protective factor against prescription drug abuse is a teen’s perception of danger, the survey highlights the need for more information and better education strategies letting kids know just how dangerous misuse of prescription drugs can be.
Other news found in this year’s survey included success in lowering the numbers of teens who engage in gambling (online, lottery, slot machines etc.). Teen gambling rates have dropped in Indiana and the survey revealed that teen regret/remorse over gambling is increasing.