WHAT IS SPICE OR SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA?

For the past few years a new drug has taken root in our communities. It is cheaper than marijuana and has at times been sold in the corner store. It is called SPICE or synthetic marijuana.

It has also been called K2, fake weed, Bliss, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Genie, Zohal, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, Moon Rocks, Mojo, Scooby Snax, and Annihilation. There are over 500 names under which SPICE has been sold. However, it is not marijuana nor is it legal and it can be dangerous and sometimes deadly. For purposes of this blog I will use the generic term SPICE to mean all of the above.

 

What is in spice?

SPICE is usually a mixture of shredded herbs and other plant material, giving it the physical appearance of marijuana, or the look of incense or potpourri.

Adding to this mixture the manufactures sprays on active chemicals, such as synthetic cannabinoids, and a mixture from 120 other known chemicals. In other words, SPICE is not natural marijuana, it is something completely different.

The DEA has made many of the active chemicals found in SPICE illegal. However, the manufacturers of SPICE stay one step ahead of them by using differing chemicals in their mixtures.

 

How is it sold?

SPICE is most often labeled “Not for Human Consumption” and disguised as incense or potpourri. It is advertised as a natural product and therefore presumed to be harmless.

Once the word spreads on the street that this particular SPICE is sold this way the consumer buys this “Incense or Potpourri” fully intending to use the product differently than as advertised.

 

What are the effects of spice?

Early research on SPICE and how it affects the brain found that the some of the chemicals found in SPICE attach to the same nerve cell receptors as THC, the main mind-altering ingredient in marijuana, thus the names synthetic marijuana or fake weed.

Some of the chemicals in SPICE, however, attach to those receptors more strongly than THC, which could lead to a much stronger and more unpredictable effects.

Additionally, many of the chemicals in SPICE remain unidentified and it is not clear how they affect the user. These chemicals are often being changed as the makers of SPICE alter them to avoid their products being labeled illegal.

People have reported that SPICE affected them just like marijuana but with more intensity including elevated mood, relaxation and altered perception.

However, there are also the reported bad side effects to using SPICE, dependent on what chemicals were used in its manufacturing. These include: fast heart rate; throwing up; feeling anxious or nervous; feeling confused; violent behavior; suicidal thoughts; increased blood pressure and less blood to flow to the heart.

There have been cases linking SPICE use with heart attacks and death as well as the possibility of harmful heavy metal residues in the SPICE chemical mixture. Like a lot of other chemical dependency issues, individuals who use SPICE heavily may have withdrawal and or addiction symptoms as well.

 

Growing popularity?

In a 2015 University of Michigan study called Monitoring the Future. 44,892 students from 382 public and private schools were asked if they had used SPICE or synthetic marijuana in the past year. The study found that 3.1% of 8th graders, 4.3% of 10th Graders and 5.2% of 12th Graders had used Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2/herbal incense, sometimes called “synthetic marijuana”) in the past year. These were decreased percentages from previous years statistical data (back to 2012), however, the problem is not going away. Recent reporting from around the Tampa Bay area suggests that the transient and homeless population in the area are becoming bigger users.

SPICE is not sold as a single brand, nor does it make use of just one ingredient. There are a number of different manufacturers who use the same basic approach, but produce products, which use very different chemicals. It is also sold on-line, as well as in the corner store thus it is accessible to anyone anywhere. It does not need a drug dealer in the back alley for it to be sold. It is a problem that is not going away anytime soon.

 

This blog is intended for informational purposes only. The content contained in this blog is not intended to be nor shall be considered legal advice. Should you have any questions concerning the content of this blog please contact Venessa Bornost, PA (727) 330-7800.

 

4 Comments
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