K2 Spice Drug -Synthetic Marijuana – Leaves Coated WIth Toxic Chemicals

K2 and Spice are two of the street names for phony, look-alike weed. It is generally a blend of different herbs and other plant material coated with chemical additives. They are part of a group called new psychoactive substances (NPS).

  • Real marijuana consists of the leaves, stems and seeds of the cannabis plant. Traditional marijuana is considered a mildly hallucinogenic depressant.
  • It may contain psychoactive herbs and dangerously unstable chemicals that make it an exceptionally powerful stimulant capable of generating serious side effects.
  • More dangerous than the long-term effects of heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine use.
  • This drug 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.
  • This drug binds to the same brain receptors targeted by the THC in pot. However, instead of acting like a partial agonist on CB1 receptors. It acts like a full agonist, exerting powerfully stimulating effects on all CB1 receptors in the brain. This is why Spice is very toxic and addictive.
  • This drug is among the most difficult drugs to identify in a drug test.
  • 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.

While traditional weed is considered a mildly hallucinogenic depressant, this drug contains psychoactive herbs and dangerously unstable chemicals. This makes it a powerful stimulant capable of generating these and other 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 room doctors report people high on this drug 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 this drug are “angry, agitated and sweaty”.

  • The potency of  this drug is over 100 times greater than the potency of THC, the chemical responsible for marijuana high.
  • Abusers are walking time-bombs ready to physically and mentally self-destruct at any time.
  • The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports more than 1500 people overdosed on synthetic marijuana in April 2015.

Their labels often claim to contain “organic” psychoactive compounds derived from plants. Although they  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.

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. Street names include;

  • Joker
  • Black Mamba
  • Kush
  • Kronic

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

Users 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 an addiction include excessive;

  • sweating
  • insomnia
  • depression
  • intense cravings

Since China and a few other southeast Asian countries have not regulated the chemicals needed to make it, most is distributed in the U.S. from overseas, underground laboratories operating in these countries. In fact, some “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.

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 it. It is popular belief that it 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 it.

Some users requires emergency treatment. One of the scariest things about it 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 it.

The effect can be far more dangerous than 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
  • relaxation

Reports from emergency rooms report unpleasant effects that can be dangerous including;

  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety and hallucinations
  •  Psychotic episodes
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Agitation
  • Sweating

Just like marijuana, it can be quite addictive. If one used this drug 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.

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 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

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. Spice have been linked to cases of kidney failure and heart attacks. It can cause myocardial ischemia which is reduced blood flow into the heart.

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.

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