Synthetic cannabis

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A bag of Spice brand synthetic cannabis

Synthetic cannabis (synthetic marijuana) is a type of designer drug made from chemicals sprayed onto herbs.[1] Synthetic cannabis is often called K2,[2] Spice,[3] or fake weed. "Synthetic" means "man-made"; Cannabis is the plant that marijuana is made from.

Synthetic cannabis is not really man-made marijuana. It has no marijuana, and no chemicals from the Cannabis plant, in it. Instead, it is sprayed with man-made chemicals called cannabinoids. In the brain, they act like the chemicals in real marijuana (like THC). Because of this, they can make a person feel "high" the same way real marijuana can.[4]

Safety[change | change source]

Medical research has shown that synthetic cannabis is much more dangerous than regular marijuana. For example, one research study found that people who used synthetic cannabis were 30 times more likely to get emergency medical treatment than people who used regular marijuana.[5]

Synthetic cannabinoids can also cause much more serious symptoms and health problems than regular marijuana. These problems can include:

Research, and the experiences of people who try to stop taking synthetic cannabis, show that it causes addiction and withdrawal symptoms in some people.[14][6]

Professor John W. Huffman, who first created many of the chemicals used in synthetic cannabis, has said: "People who use it are idiots. You don't know what it's going to do to you."[12]

Legal issues[change | change source]

Synthetic cannabis has had a complicated legal history. Its makers have used many different strategies to keep their products from being illegal.

For example, synthetic cannabis is often sold in packages that call it "herbal incense." Most of the packages also have a warning label that says "Not for human consumption" (not for humans to put into their bodies). By doing these things, companies that make synthetic cannabis can say that they are not selling drugs, and it is not their fault if people ignore their warning label.

It has also been difficult for states and countries to make synthetic cannabis illegal because there are so many different cannabinoids. For example, in 2009, the United Kingdom made all the cannabinoids that existed illegal. However, scientists quickly created new versions of cannabinoids, which were not listed as illegal in the U.K.'s laws. Like many other countries, the United Kingdom has tried to ban every new cannabinoid as soon as it is created, but new ones are made all the time.[15]

Most countries in Europe, and a few countries in Asia, have made some or all synthetic cannabinoids illegal.

United States[change | change source]

Before 2010, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had made some of the cannabinoids used in synthetic marijuana illegal in the U.S. Other cannabinoids were not illegal.[16] Some states passed laws on their own, to make synthetic cannabis illegal in their states. However, before 2010, not all cannabinoids were illegal in the United States.

On June 6, 2010, a teenager from Iowa named David Mitchell Rozga killed himself. His friends said they and Rozga had smoked synthetic cannabis about an hour before he shot himself. Rozga's suicide, and the idea that it might have been caused by synthetic cannabis, was reported in newspapers and media all over the world.

After Rozga's suicide, the DEA used "emergency powers" to make five cannabinoids often found in synthetic marijuana illegal.[17] Also, after the suicide, United States Senator Chuck Grassley suggested a law called the "David Mitchell Rozga Act." This law would make using or selling synthetic cannabis illegal. The law was passed by the United States Congress in June 2011.[18]

On July 10, 2012, President Barack Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 into law. It made the most common chemicals used in synthetic marijuana illegal.[19]

Related pages[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Roland Macher. "Synthetic Marijuana". FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. Retrieved 22 July 2012.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  2. Mary Carmichael (March 4, 2010). "K2: Scary Drug or Another Drug Scare?". Newsweek. Retrieved November 24, 2010. 
  3. "What's the buzz?: Synthetic marijuana, K2, Spice, JWH-018 : Terra Sigillata". Scienceblogs.com. Retrieved November 24, 2010. 
  4. www.emed-journal.com Lapoint J, Nelson LS. Synthetic Cannabinoids: The Newest, Almost Illicit Drug of Abuse. Emergency Medicine 2011;43(2):26-28
  5. Winstock, Adam; Lynskey, Michael; Borschmann, Rohan; Waldron, Jon (June 2015). "Risk of emergency medical treatment following consumption of cannabis or synthetic cannabinoids in a large global sample". Journal of Psychopharmacology 29 (6): 698-703. doi:10.1177/0269881115574493. http://jop.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/03/05/0269881115574493.abstract. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "DrugFacts: Synthetic Cannabinoids". drugabuse.gov. National Institute on Drug Abuse. November 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2016. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 El Kouzi, Ahmad; Siddiqui, Fazeel (April 8, 2015). "'Spicy Strokes': Synthetic Cannabis in Strokes in Young". Neurology 84 (14). http://www.neurology.org/content/84/14_Supplement/P7.123.short. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
  8. Mir, A; Obafemi, A; Young, A; Kane, C (December 2011). "Myocardial infarction associated with use of the synthetic cannabinoid k2.". Pediatrics 128 (6): e1622-7. doi:10.1542/peds.2010-3823. PMID 22065271.
  9. Schneir, AB; Baumbacher, T (December 13, 2011). "Convulsions Associated with the Use of a Synthetic Cannabinoid Product.". Journal of Medical Toxicology 8 (1): 62–4. doi:10.1007/s13181-011-0182-2. PMID 22160733.
  10. Müller, H.; Sperling, W.; Köhrmann, M.; Huttner, H.; Kornhuber, J.; Maler, J. (2010). "The synthetic cannabinoid Spice as a trigger for an acute exacerbation of cannabis induced recurrent psychotic episodes". Schizophrenia research 118 (1–3): 309–310. doi:10.1016/j.schres.2009.12.001. PMID 20056392.
  11. Hurst, D; Loeffler, G; McLay, R (October 2011). "Psychosis associated with synthetic cannabinoid agonists: a case series". The American Journal of Psychiatry 168 (10): 1119. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2011.11010176. PMID 21969050.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Jeanna Bryner (March 3, 2010). "Fake Weed, Real Drug: K2 Causing hallucinations in Teens". LiveScience. Retrieved April 21, 2010. 
  13. Auwärter, V. (2009). "'Spice' and other herbal blends: harmless incense or cannabinoid designer drugs?". Journal of mass spectrometry : JMS 44 (5): 832–837. doi:10.1002/jms.1558. PMID 19189348.
  14. Zimmermann, U. (2009). "Withdrawal phenomena and dependence syndrome after the consumption of "spice gold"". Deutsches Arzteblatt international 106 (27): 464–467. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2009.0464. PMC 2719097. PMID 19652769.
  15. Portal, Gaetan (December 23, 2009). "'Legal high' drugs banned in UK". BBC News. Retrieved May 23, 2010. 
  16. "HU-210". USDOJ.gov. Retrieved September 16, 2010. 
  17. "DEA Moves to Emergency Control Synthetic Marijuana". DEA Public Affairs. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. November 24, 2010. Retrieved February 19, 2011. 
  18. "The David Mitchell Rozga Act (S.605 - Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2011)". Opencongress.org. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  19. Vashi, Sonam (September 26, 2012). "K2 Trend Not Slowing Down".