All About K2 Drug Synthetic Marijuana Spice

 

Unlike “real” marijuana, which consists of the leaves, stems and seeds of the Cannabis plant, synthetic marijuana is a blend of different so-called “organic” herbs and other plant material that has been coated with chemical additives. While traditional marijuana is considered a mildly hallucinogenic depressant, Spice contains psychoactive herbs and dangerously unstable chemicals that make it an exceptionally powerful stimulant capable of generating serious side effects.

About Synthetic Marijuana K2 Drug & Spice

Whether you call it K2, Spice, fake weed, Moon Rocks or Yucatan Fire, synthetic marijuana produces side effects that exert a more serious and immediate danger to your health than the long-term effects of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine use.

Unlike “real” marijuana, which consists of the leaves, stems and seeds of the Cannabis plant, synthetic marijuana is a blend of different so-called “organic” herbs and other plant material that has been coated with chemical additives. While traditional marijuana is considered a mildly hallucinogenic depressant, Spice contains psychoactive herbs and dangerously unstable chemicals that make it an exceptionally powerful stimulant capable of generating these side effects:

  • Uncontrollable agitation and anxiety
  • Aggressive, threatening behavior
  • Paranoid delusions/hallucinations/acute psychosis
  • Tremors and seizures
  • Rapid heartbeat, hyperventilation and chest pain
  • Kidney, brain and heart damage
  • Stroke

Emergency Rooms

Emergency room doctors report people high on synthetic marijuana exhibit symptoms more severe than those of someone overdosing on meth or cocaine. According to Dr. Lewis Nelson of NYU’s Department of Emergency Medicine, people using Spice are “angry, agitated and sweaty”. With the potency of synthetic marijuana over 100 times greater than the potency of THC (the chemical responsible for marijuana’s “high”), Spice abusers are walking time-bombs ready to physically and mentally self-destruct at any time.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that 1500+ people overdosed on synthetic marijuana (Spice) in April 2015, a 400 percent increase from the 250 cases recorded by hospital emergency rooms in April, 2014.

Teenagers are using this dangerous drug in record numbers

teenageuse stats

A Dangerous Cocktail of Designer Chemicals

Spice labels claim to contain “organic” psychoactive compounds derived from plants. Although synthetic marijuana products are primarily comprised of shredded, dried plants, a chemical analysis reveals that all active ingredients are designer, or lab-made compounds called cathinones. Similar to amphetamines, cathinones consist of:

  • Methylone – a central nervous system stimulant that belongs to the cathinone, phenethylamine and amphetamine class of drugs.
  • Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV)–a psychoactive designer stimulant that instigates the release of huge amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine into the brain. Emergency room doctors treat the hypertension, severe agitation, seizures and rapid heartbeat caused by MDPV with large doses of benzodiazepines, specifically lorazepam.
  • Mephedrone (4-MMC)–another designer stimulant belonging to the cathinone and amphetamine class of drugs, mephedrone makes users hallucinate, grind their teeth, engage in erratic behavior and experience nose bleeds due to the sustained and profound increase in blood pressure and body temperature.

It is Illegal

In 2011, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration enacted an emergency law that designated active chemicals found in synthetic marijuana as Schedule I controlled substances. According to the press release published by the DEA, the law made “possessing and selling these chemicals or the products that contain them illegal in the United States”.

Signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2012, the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 permanently bans the use of designer chemicals (on a federal level) found in Spice and makes the possession and sale of synthetic marijuana a crime that incurs penalties similar to sale and possession laws associated with methamphetamine.

The official White House website reports that 43 states now regulate at least one or more chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana. Before 2010, the sale, use and possession of Spice was legal in the U.S. on both the state and federal level.

K2 Spice is Very Addictive

image of the packagingSynthetic marijuana binds to the same brain receptors targeted by the THC in pot. However, instead of acting like a partial agonist on CB1 receptors, Spice acts like a full agonist, exerting powerfully stimulating effects on all CB1 receptors in the brain. This is why Spice is very toxic and addicting too.

Spice addicts suffer the same withdrawal symptoms suffered by meth, cocaine or heroin addicts if they abstain from using synthetic marijuana for 24 hours. Signs that someone is withdrawing from a Spice addiction include excessive sweating, insomnia, depression, intense cravings for Spice and psychotic episodes.

Where It’s Manufactured

Since China and a few other southeast Asian countries have not regulated the chemicals needed to make Spice, most synthetic marijuana distributed in the U.S. comes from overseas, underground laboratories operating in these countries. In fact, some Spice “companies” advertise online and get away with selling their products by marking packages as “not for human consumption”. Last year, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk went so far as to specifically ask the Chinese government to do more to reduce the amount of synthetic marijuana products entering the U.S.

The drug K2 spice also known as synthetic marijuana refers to a mixture of spices, herbs and shredded plant material that is sprayed with a chemical compound similar to THC found in marijuana. It can be smoked in pipes or as a joint or can be ingested by making tea.

When it was introduced it had been marketed as incense. It then became very popular among students and young adults since they could easily and legally obtain it until there was a national ban against the sale of synthetic cannabis. It is popular belief that K2 spice is non-toxic, safe and it elicits a mind altering effect just like regular marijuana. But surveys and case reports have shown serious toxicities that occur from use of synthetic marijuana. Some users requires emergency treatment. One of the scariest things about K2 spice is the fact that no one is sure what the chemical compounds themselves consist of. The chemical formulations for developing the compounds are inconsistent. Everyone reacts different to different chemicals and this also applies to K2 spice.

About K2 Spice

The effect of synthetic marijuana, smoking synthetic marijuana can have far more dangerous effects that those of real weed. The effects it has on the user is dependent on which cannabinoids the user put into their body and how they ingested it. Users get pleasant side effects similar to those of marijuana but more intense such as; elevated mood, altered perception and relaxation. Reports from emergency rooms report unpleasant effects that can sometimes be dangerous such as;

  • Paranoia

  • Anxiety and hallucinations

  •  Psychotic episodes

  • Increased heart rate

  • Seizures

  • Agitation

  • Sweating

K2 spice just like marijuana can be quite addictive. Some people assume that it is non-toxic and there is therefore no risk of getting addicted. If one used K2 spice regularly they can get addicted in a matter of weeks. Some people crave the intensity of Spice just like other hard core drugs such as crack and heroin. K2 spice dependence and withdrawal. One of the signs to tell if a person has developed an addiction is the presence of withdrawal symptoms as soon as they attempt to quit. When a long time user of K2 spice attempts to quit using they experience serious withdrawal symptoms such as;

  • Kidney failure or damage
  • Intense cravings
  • Depression
  • Dehydration
  • Inability to sleep
  • Psychotic episodes
  • Suicidal thoughts

Synthetic Marijuana

To manage the symptoms one might involve formal detoxing. Detoxing the body from spice takes about a week or so and the side effects may last longer. Cravings for the drug get intense making relapse very common after quitting. Long term effects of K2 spice. The effects can be fatal in some cases. Spice have been linked to cases of kidney failure and heart attacks. K2 spice causes myocardial ischemia which is reduced blood flow into the heart and can cause damage to the heart or can lead to a heart attack. Mental problems such as hallucinations, suicidal actions and thoughts, intense fear, homicidal thoughts and actions as well as paranoia. The effects are largely unknown since it is a relatively new drug in the market. Spice is among the most difficult drugs to identify. It comes in different forms and is composed of different components. It is promoted as a replacement for marijuana for those that do not want to get a positive drug test.

 

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About the author

Robert M. has been in recovery since 1988. He is a sponsor and loyal member of AA. He has been working in the drug and alcohol field for nearly 20 years. During that time, he has written industry blogs and articles for a variety of industry websites including Transitions, Malibu Horizons, Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches and Lifeskills of Boca Raton.