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These synthetic products are deer drugs in which incense or other leafy materials are sprayed with lab-synthesized liquid chemicals to mimic copy the effect of tetrahydrocannabinol THCthe psychoactive ingredient in the naturally grown cannabis sativa plant. Synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes incorrectly called "synthetic marijuana" or "fake weed"and they are often promoted as safe or legal substitutes to natural marijuana. There is no actual marijuana plant in synthetic cannabinoids; however, the action of the chemicals still take affect on the cannabinoid THC receptors in the brain.
Synthetic cannabinoids can produce very different actions from smoking natural marijuana. The effects can be much more intense, unpleasant and sometimes dangerous compared to naturally-grown marijuana. Spice or K2 became increasingly popular with high school students and young adults in the mid's because it was legal and easily obtainable from convenience stores, smoke shops, and online.
However, in July a national ban was enacted against the sale of synthetic cannabinoids in the U. While synthetic cannabinoids are illegal in the U. Popular belief is that "Spice" or "K2" is safe, non-toxic, and in a psychoactive mind-altering effect similar to regular marijuana. However, case reports and surveys have identified serious toxicities that occur with use of synthetic cannabinoids, and some users have required emergency room treatment.
The chemicals synthesized for the production of synthetic cannabinoids can be more potent than natural THC found in natural marijuana, and may have more dangerous side effects. Little is known of the pharmacological profile of the chemicals or their by-products. Synthetic cannabinoids are ingested in a similar manner to marijuana, either smoked alone in a t or other device, such as a pipe or a bong, or rolled into a t with tobacco or natural marijuana.
This product may also be baked into foods, such as brownies, or made into tea. Synthetic cannabinoid users report experiences similar to those produced by natural marijuana -- elevated mood, relaxation, and altered perception.
Often, the effects can be stronger than those of natural marijuana due to the synthesized chemicals. Some users report psychotic effects like extreme anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations. The cannabinoid compounds found in these synthetic agents act on the same cell receptors as those affected by the THC in natural marijuana. Identified compounds include 2 :. Some of the synthesized compounds in "fake pot" bind much more strongly to THC receptors than regular marijuana, which can lead to more powerful, unpredictable or dangerous effects.
Synthesized compounds have been noted to be times more potent than the average THC found in marijuana. The stronger binding of the synthetic chemicals to Posh smoking spice THC receptor sites in the brain may lead to the extreme anxiety and paranoia that have been reported in some users. In addition, as with many illicit deer drugs, the chemical composition may be unknown and some products may be combined with other toxic chemicals.
Inreports surfaced of synthetic cannabinoids being laced with fentanyl in Connecticut, as reported by NPR. The chemicals used in these products have a high potential for abuse and no medical benefit. The Drug Enforcement Administration DEA has deated many active Posh smoking spice found most frequently in synthetic cannabinoids as Schedule I controlled substancesthe most restrictive schedule, making it illegal to sell, buy, or possess them. Manufacturers attempt to evade these legal restrictions by substituting different chemicals in their mixtures, while the DEA continues to monitor and update the list of banned cannabinoid derivatives.
Yes, synthetic cannabinoids can be dangerous, as described in several case reports and alerts from U. Complications due to synthetic pot use may include:. Spice and K2 can also raise blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart myocardial ischemiaand in a few cases it has been associated with heart attacks. Published case reports in Pediatrics describe three teenagers who were hospitalized after using synthetic Posh smoking spice.
These patients demonstrated varying degrees of catatonia an inability to respond to verbal or physical stimulation, including pain an elevated heart rate, agitation, anxiety, dizziness, headaches, excessive sweating, slowed speech, and confusion. Two of the patients recovered to normal function in three to four hours, while the third patient was kept in hospital overnight before being released. In mid-Marchthe Illinois Department of Heath reported several cases of severe bleeding in people who had used synthetic cannabinoids, such as Spice or K2, contaminated with blood thinners.
Subsequently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC posted an Outbreak Alert warning of life-threatening vitamin K-dependent antagonist bleeding disorders linked with synthetic cannabinoid use in Illinois and other states.
Four deaths due to severe bleeding were reported in Illinois. Laboratory testing confirmed that patients were exposed to brodifacoum an anticoagulant, or blood thinner in rat poison due to contaminated synthetic cannabinoids. If you have consumed synthetic marijuana and have s or symptoms of bleeding, call or go to an emergency room immediately, tell the doctor you have smoked synthetic marijuana and that you are bleeding, or may be bleeding. Laboratory tests can determine the extent of your anticoagulation and long-term vitamin K phytonadione treatment may be started to reverse the effects of the blood thinner.
Do not delay treatment. There have been reports that Spice or K2 may be laced with other illicit substances, such as fentanylwhich can rapidly lead to respiratory depression and death. Synthetic cannabinoids are created illegally, are not regulated by any authority and may be contaminated with any of poisonous substances. The long-term effects of synthetic cannabinoids on reproduction, cancer development, memory or addiction potential are not known. One report suggests some of these products may contain heavy metal residues that may be harmful to health. Other reports claim synthetic marijuana can be addicting -- users who have had even unpleasant experiences crave additional drug.
Regular users may experience withdrawal symptoms. In the Monitoring the Future Posh smoking spicea survey from the National Institute of Drug Abuse NIDA on adolescent drug use, past year use of synthetic marijuana use was second only to use of Posh smoking spice marijuana in high school seniors. However, in general, rates of Spice or K2 use have remained low among teens in the U. While the chemicals sprayed on plant material to produce Spice or K2 were ly not easily detectable in standard drug tests, that is changing and some drug tests now include assays to identify the common compounds found in synthetic marijuana.
Laboratory tests are becoming increasingly common for the detection of Spice and K2 in urine drug screens. Like marijuana, the active ingredients in Spice and K2 have a long half-life and can be stored in the body for extended periods of time. Haiken M. June April 5, Khan A. Pharmacy Times. June 12, Accessed June 13, at drugs. Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this applies to your personal circumstances. Is synthetic cannabinoids "synthetic marijuana" still available in stores? How are synthetic cannabinoids used? What chemicals are in Spice or K2?
Complications due to synthetic pot use may include: high blood pressure Posh smoking spice and vomiting anxiety or agitation seizures rapid heart rate tachycardia excessive sweating confusion hallucinations Spice and K2 can also raise blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart myocardial ischemiaand in a few cases it has been associated with heart attacks.
Long-term effects of synthetic cannabinoid use The long-term effects of synthetic cannabinoids on reproduction, cancer development, memory or addiction potential are not known. Extent of synthetic marijuana use in teens In the Monitoring the Future Surveya survey from the National Institute of Drug Abuse NIDA on adolescent drug use, past year use of synthetic marijuana use was second only to use of natural marijuana in high school seniors. In fact, rates of synthetic marijuana use have been declining since when it was at its highest; in These s are not surprising considering the increased legal status of recreation marijuana in the U.
Do drug tests screen for Spice or K2? Accessed June 13, N Engl J Med ; Accessed June 13, at DOI: Accessed Nov. Subscribe to our newsletters. FDA Safety Alerts. Daily MedNews.
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