Over the past decade, the phenomenon of synthetic marijuana has become extremely popular. It was first seen being sold in headshops and convenience stores under the names Spice, K2, Skunk, Green Giant, among many others. The packages were labeled as “incense” with a warning that stated “Not For Human Consumption.” Unbeknownst to law enforcement, these incense packages were actually used to mimic marijuana and are highly addictive drugs used to create a powerful high. The fake weed became quite popular because it was a legal high. Unfortunately, though, these drugs tend to be far more dangerous than marijuana.

What Is Synthetic Marijuana?  

Fake weed is typically made up of herbs such as oregano, basil, and other plant materials which are then sprayed with a chemical coating. These chemicals, often synthesized in foreign countries, are developed to mimic the chemical structure of THC (the active chemical in marijuana). These chemicals are developed in such a way to undermine international laws while still providing the user with a pleasant high when ingested. The chemicals are part of an umbrella of substances dubbed “designer drugs,” like bath salts or Flakka.

The spices are then smoked in a similar fashion as weed, activating the intoxicating chemicals. Unlike marijuana, “spice” can cause a much more powerful high which can be depressing, stimulating or even psychedelic. Some users report hallucination and delusions while under the influence of the drugs. Even more disturbing, very little is know about these drugs and they could be causing a wide range of health problems.

Fake weed became very popular not only because of its legal status, but because it also could fool drug tests and cost much less than marijuana. Users could feel safer if they were pulled over and could even use the drugs without their jobs finding out. Synthetic marijuana is also very easy for teens to obtain due to the lack of any type of regulation. Unlike alcohol, anybody of any age can purchase fake weed.

What Are The Health Hazards?

Marijuana is gaining popularity across the country and has been legalized for recreational use in several states. So, when fake weed companies claim their ingredients are all-natural, it is very deceiving for users who think it has similar effects as weed. In fact, synthetic marijuana is not remotely natural and is often 1,000 times more powerful than marijuana.

Marijuana also contains a chemical called cannabidiol, which actually protects the brain from some of the psychedelic effects THC can cause. Synthetic marijuana does not contain this chemical and often causes far more psychedelic and stimulant effects.

Fake weed can have a wide range of effects because every batch is different, but many symptoms are far more dangerous than real marijuana. Some possible symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Heart attacks
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Kidney damage or failure
  • Live damage
  • High blood pressure
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death

Spice can also have long term effects on the brain. Because it is a relatively new substance, long term side effects are not known. It is also unknown which specific brands are more harmful than others.

fake weed

More Addictive Than Marijuana

Not only is fake weed more dangerous than the real thing, it is all commonly more addictive. Ingredients in synthetic marijuana can cause physical dependence which can result with painful symptoms and withdrawal if the user stops use. Synthetic marijuana addiction may even require medical detox, due to the unknown symptoms of withdrawal which are sometimes deadly. Some symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Headache
  • Cold sweats
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Psychotic symptoms
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts

Fake Weed And Society

Synthetic marijuana is causing societal consequences. From time to time there are “bad batches” which cause many to overdose on the drug in a particular region. Additionally, there are thousands of emergency room visits every year due to spice-use. It is also estimated by NIDA that around 4% of teens have tried spice at least once.

Once openly legal, synthetic marijuana is now being scrutinized and criminalized by the DEA. In 2013, the DEA classified synthetic weed as a Schedule I substance, classing it next to LSD, PCP, MDMA, and heroin. Though many spice ingredients are now illegal, the chemicals are constantly changed to undermine the law. Spice is still very available and still being sold in many head shops. Store owners will sometimes hide their supply under the counter and only take it out if a customer asks.  

Since the manufacturers are able to use fraudulent and sneaky tactics to continue sales, the only way to fight spice use and addiction is education. If you are someone you know is using spice, it is important to learn about the dangers and mysterious side effects caused by these chemicals. If you are suffering from spice addiction, an addiction treatment center can help you detox and take back control of your life.

How Pinnacle Can Help

One of the most effective ways to beat addiction is to start recovery at an addiction treatment center. Pinnacle Treatment Center is a comprehensive program that addresses the root causes of addiction and how to overcome it. The staff at Pinnacle include doctors, nurses, and licensed therapists. Pinnacle offers both inpatient and outpatient programs. If you are suffering from drug withdrawal, Pinnacle can comfortably and safely provide detoxification services that include medication-assisted treatment drugs like Suboxone.

Pinnacle provides intensive therapy along with lectures and exercises for life skills and relapse prevention. Patients will be involved in group therapy sessions as well as 12-step groups like NA and AA. Pinnacle will even help manage aftercare planning to ensure their patients remain on the right path after treatment. A well-rounded program like this is the best way to start recovery today and take control of your life.