Skip to content

K2 Spice – Synthetic Marijuana

“K2” and “spice” are street names for fake, 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 of drugs called synthetic cannabinoids. It falls into a class of drugs called psychoactive substances (NPS). It is illegal.

  • Natural 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 dangerous chemicals that make it a potent stimulant capable of generating severe 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 sprayed with a chemical compound similar to THC found in marijuana. 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 weed. However, instead of acting like a partial agonist on CB1 receptors, it works like a full agonist, exerting powerfully stimulating effects on all CB1 receptors in the brain. It is why Spice is very toxic and addictive.
  • This drug is among the most challenging drugs to identify in a drug test.
  • It comes in different forms and is composed of other components. It is 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 unsafe chemicals. It 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 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.”

  • This drug’s potency 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 primarily comprise shredded, dried plants, a chemical analysis reveals that all active ingredients are designer or lab-made combinations called cathinone. Similar to amphetamines, cathinones consist of:

  • Methylone – It’s a central nervous system stimulant that belongs to the amphetamine class of drugs.
  • Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) is a psychoactive designer stimulant that instigates vast amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine into the brain. Emergency room doctors treat hypertension, severe agitation, seizures, and rapid heartbeat.
  • Mephedrone (4-MMC) – It is another designer stimulant belonging to the amphetamine class of drugs. Mephedrone makes users hallucinate, grind their teeth, engage in erratic behavior, and experience nose bleeds.

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 permanently bans the use of the chemicals found in “K2 Spice.  It makes possession and sale 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 were legal in the U.S. on both the state and federal levels.

Users suffer the same withdrawal symptoms from methcocaine, or heroin addicts if they abstain from using synthetic marijuana 24 hours. Signs that someone is withdrawing from 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 are in the U.S. from overseas, underground laboratories operating in these countries. In addition, 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 specifically asked the Chinese government to reduce synthetic marijuana products entering the U.S.

 It was initially an incense. It became prevalent among students and young adults since they could quickly and legally obtain it until a national ban against its sale. It is a widespread 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 severe toxicities that occur from the use of it.

Some users require emergency treatment. One of the scariest things about it is that no one is sure what are the chemical compounds. In addition, the chemical formulations for developing the compounds are inconsistent. Everyone reacts differently to different chemicals, and this also applies to it.

The effect can be far more dangerous than those of natural weed. The impact it has on the user is dependent on which cannabinoids the user puts 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 pretty addictive. If one used this drug regularly, it could 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 of whether a person has developed an addiction is withdrawal symptoms as soon as they attempt to quit. When a long time user tries to stop using, they experience severe 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 is associated with cases of kidney failure and heart attacks. It can cause myocardial ischemia, which is reduced blood flow into the heart.

Mental problems include hallucinations, suicidal actions and thoughts, intense fear, homicidal thoughts, actions, and paranoia. The effects are largely unknown since it is a relatively new drug in the market.