Synthetic marijuana or Spice refers to a wide variety of plant mixtures that are promoted to produce experiences similar to natural marijuana (cannabis) and that are marketed as legal and “safe” alternatives.
Synthetic marijuana or Spice, is completely different than natural marijuana.
Spice is considered highly addictive and is widely believed to be more dangerous than the real thing.
Synthetic marijuana is not sold as a single brand, nor does it make use of just one ingredient. It’s sold in cute colourful packages and is marketed as a herbal tobacco, potpourri, or incense, purporting to be an innocent product for scenting rooms and will usually have the warning, “Not for human consumption” on the packet.
The packages contain dried and shredded plant materials that have been sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids – which are responsible for their psychoactive (mind-altering) effects..
Synthetic cannabinoids latch onto the same receptors that THC latches onto in the brain, so they can have an effect similar to THC. However, some synthetic cannabinoids are 100 times stronger than THC and many operate on other brain receptors, too.
Synthetic marijuana and Spice products are often labeled “not for human consumption” and are sold under many names, including K2, Fake weed, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, Mojo, Scooby Snax, Black Mamba, Annihilation, Moon Rocks, etc.
Spice products are popular among young people; of the illicit drugs most used by high-school seniors, they are second only to marijuana.
Easy access and the misperception that Spice products are “natural” and therefore harmless have likely contributed to their popularity. Another selling point is that the chemicals used in Spice are not easily detected in standard drug tests.
Spice highs can now mimic the effects of amphetamine, cocaine, or psychedelic drugs, with significant negative side effects that can include high blood pressure, blurred vision, heart attack, vomiting, seizures, hallucinations, and severe anxiety, paranoia and psychosis.
Most young users are unaware of the negative effects that synthetic marijuana can have on them. Some have died from their first exposure to the drug.
Vaping the liquid form of synthetic marijuana is a fast growing trend. The increasing popularity of e-cigarettes, and vapour pens in high schools and universities may be the reason behind this shift.
The variety of chemicals may be greater in the liquid forms of synthetic marijuana. Some suspect that a few brands of liquid Spice may contain traces of synthetic psychedelics such as 2C-P.
Much of synthetic marijuana is produced in clandestine labs in China or Russia. Because of the wide variety of chemicals involved and the sloppy manufacturing methods used to produce them, one batch may not be the same as another, increasing the health risks and turning the use of the drug into a game of Russian roulette.
Unlike some countries and U.S. states, Canada hasn’t expressly banned synthetic cannabinoids, although it controls them under the term “similar synthetic preparations” to cannabis.
It may be harder to get Spice in head shops or gas station stores, but synthetic marijuana remains widely available on the Internet.