Synthetic marijuana — the nasty, toxic and confoundingly legal concoction sold in convenience stores across the country — made headlines again this week.
The NFL announced on Wednesday that it has added this potentially deadly product to its banned substance list. Yes, before this week a player testing positive for “Spice” or “K2,” the street names for synthetic weed, would not face punishment. Actual cannabis, on the other hand, remains on the banned list despite growing sentiment to allow it for medicinal use.
Many Americans scratch their heads when reading these headlines about “synthetic weed.” Can it kill you? Is it marijuana laced with dangerous chemicals? Can my kid get ahold of it? Here is what you need to know:
What Is ‘Synthetic Marijuana’?
Before we go into what it is, let’s be clear about what it is NOT: It is not marijuana. Simple as that.
But it is hard to say what it actually is because it isn’t just one substance. In essence, it is a concoction of man-made chemicals that are sprayed onto ground plant matter, that has a vague appearance of marijuana. These man-made chemicals act similar to THC in that they interact with the cell receptors in your brain.
The problem is that each product varies widely and the consumer has no idea which chemicals are present. The chemicals are toxic. And once one of the chemicals is identified and banned, a similar, nearly identical chemical is created. It becomes a never-ending battle of law enforcement vs. chemists.
Is K2 and Spice The Same Thing?
Well, they are both have the same effect, but they are a different combination of chemicals. There are countless brands out there: Bliss. Blaze. Cowboy Kush. K2. Spice Kronic. All are different in specific ingredients, but act the same when absorbed into your body.
Why Do People Buy It Instead Of Real Weed?
This is the one of the unintended consequences of marijuana prohibition. Many convenience stores across the country sell the products, usually behind the counter. The price is significantly cheaper than actual cannabis. But easy access and price are not the reason most consumer buy it, especially millionaire NFL players.
Anyone subject to drug testing — whether you are a parolee, a member of the armed forces, an office worker or a NFL superstar — can pass a test. Plain and simple. Remember, there is no THC present in this product. So, in effect, the laws preventing adults from using marijuana — a relatively non-toxic herb — guides them to a poor substitute in this synthetic substance — a much more harmful drug.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “synthetic cannabinoids can have more powerful effects on the brain, and can lead to death.” There has never been a reported incident of a fatal overdose of marijuana. It just not happen.
What are some of the more harmful effects?
According to the NIDA, people who have used synthetic cannabinoids and have been taken to emergency rooms have shown severe overdose effects including:
- Rapid heart rate
- Violent behavior
- Suicidal thoughts
Our advice? Stick with the herb that comes from the earth and steer clear of these dangerous chemicals.