Addicted to Synthetic Marijuana
Sold under street names like Spice, K2, Black Mamba, Mr. Smiley, Mr. Nice Guy and Red X Dawn, synthetic marijuana has managed to fool young people into cruel addiction under the guise of a safe alternative to illegal pot. The substance was banned by the Federal government this past summer but not before young people were sucked into the lie that somehow a man-made version of the drug could provide all of the benefits and none of the dangers posed by naturally occurring marijuana.
Once widely available at truck stops, smoke shops and convenience markets, synthetic marijuana claimed to be the safe alternative to smoking illegal cannabis. That choice is no longer necessary in two states which just this past month voted to make cannabis a legal substance. Nonetheless, a Federal ban on natural marijuana remains in force and 48 other states have not yet opted to thumb their nose at national drug policy.
Although kids may be fooled into thinking that the synthetic drug is somehow less dangerous, records from Poison Control calls and reports from hospital emergency rooms tell a much different tale. Those files show patients on synthetic marijuana suffering with vomiting, extreme confusion, agitation, psychosis, hallucinations and even paranoia. These symptoms are, if anything, more severe than those experienced by those who use natural cannabis.
Synthetic marijuana is produced by blending several chemicals, chief among which is JWH-018, synthetically designed to imitate THC, the psychoactive ingredient in natural marijuana. The chemicals are sprayed onto plants in order to make the synthetic variety even look similar to regular marijuana. But because the man-made chemicals are so much stronger (five times more so) so also are the side effects of the drug.
Furthermore, like the drug it is intended to mimic, the synthetic version of pot is prone to addiction. It produces similar results for users through similar biologic pathways. It is no wonder that it yields many of the same results including addiction and withdrawal symptoms. In fact, although synthetic marijuana has only been around for less than ten years, rehab center admissions for addiction to it have been on the rise.
Kids should be warned that smoking anything is dangerous to health. Packages which bear any of the names mentioned, substances which look like marijuana, or labels which read "not for human consumption" should be considered red flags for synthetic marijuana. Parents need to be open with their teens about the presence and potential danger of even man-made drugs.
In the meanwhile, local authorities have shown great determination in ridding local store shelves of the man-made substance often sold as incense. Marijuana, natural or man-made, cannot deliver a high without cost.