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What is Synthetic Marijuana?

Commonly known as Spice or K2, “synthetic marijuana”, is a mixture of shredded plant materials sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids which users claim mimics the effects of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The product is often sold in retail outlets labeled as herbal incense or potpourri and marked as “not intended for human consumption” in order to hide its intended purpose. The drug is typically smoked in a similar fashion to marijuana; however, some users have been using the substance to brew an herbal tea for consumption.

Not Natural

Spice products tend to be popular among young people who have a misperception that the drug is natural and therefore harmless. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Labels on Spice products often claim that they contain “natural” psycho-active material taken from a variety of plants. Spice products do contain dried plant material, but chemical analyses show that their active ingredients are synthetic (or designer) cannabinoid compounds.” And while many of the most commonly used chemicals in Spice have been made illegal, manufacturers of Spice products have begun substituting different chemicals into their mixtures in order to continue to evade authorities. With the constantly changing list of chemicals being used in Spice, there is no way for an individual to know exactly what the product contains or what the long term effects might be. It also believed that some Spice mixtures contain harmful heavy metal residues.


According to the NIDA, people using Spice and taken to Poison Control Centers, “reported symptoms like a fast heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations. Spice can also raise blood pressure and cause less blood to flow to the heart. In a few cases, it has been associated with heart attacks.” The drug claims to offer an experience similar to marijuana, however, “Some users report psychotic effects like extreme anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations.” Additionally, some Spice users have experienced withdrawal symptoms and addiction.

Spice, K2, or “synthetic marijuana” is a dangerous substance. Despite its labeling, it is not natural, but instead is a chemical cocktail sprayed onto plant materials with the sole purpose of creating intoxication.

There is no way to know what dangerous chemicals may be entering the body when consuming Spice or to predict the long term health effects of use.

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