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Synthetic Cannabis Explained

In the wake of disenchantment with the war against drugs, the past half-decade has seen the rise of a new designer drug meant to mimic the effects of marijuana.

Referred to by a number of names from Spice and K2, to Moon Rocks or Scooby Snax, these drugs consist partially of traditional medicinal herbs sprayed with a coating of synthetic cannabinoids.

K2 was originally produced at Clemson University in South Carolina, where the lab was try synthesize cannabinoids for therapeutic purposes.  However, the drug is manufactured by multiple private companies, meaning there’s no way to tell what is being cut into the drug.

The herbal components mainly provide a way to light the synthetic cannabanoids.  The plants are cited on the packaging as traditional medicinal herbs like the Blue Water Lilly and Indian Warrior, which have been used traditionally for mild psychoactive effects or muscle relaxers.

Indian Warrior plantPhoto: Jerry Kirkhart/Flickr CC

Indian Warrior plant
Photo: Jerry Kirkhart/Flickr CC

What makes synthetic cannabis a designer drug are the synthetic components, which are created to mimic the effects of THC using legal ingredients. Most of these synthetic cannabinoids have not been formally tested by the FDA, and may pose serious health risks.  Some synthetic cannabis blends have even been found to contain benzodiazepines.

What makes these synthetic drugs dangerous is not only the fact that they haven’t been tested, but they aren’t the same natural combination found in marijuana, which contains antipsychotic chemicals.  In this sense, it means synthetic cannabis is more likely to induce a state of psychosis.

Psychosis is not the only thing we have to worry about with synthetic cannabis either; there is a whole lot of risks involved in smoking this designer drug.  There have been cases of heart attacks and convulsions, as well as the ability to worsen psychotic disorders or trigger chronic psychotic disorders in those with a family history of mental illness.

However, it is difficult to take any effective steps towards eliminating synthetic cannabis because as soon as one compound is banned, the manufacturers find a way to alter the compound or synthesize another in order to evade the ban.

So when sixteen-year-olds start having heart-attacks and strokes because they were trying to get high from the K2 they bought for $20 for four grams at the gas station, reefer seems to become a bit friendlier, doesn’t it?

Posted by on February 17, 2013. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to Synthetic Cannabis Explained

  1. Jordan King

    February 18, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Nice article Zak! Spice and K2 and all that is crap, I’d rather some me some all naturual ganja anyday.