Do You Know ....

about synthetic marijuana - K2, Spice?

Yesterday, 33 people were treated in Brooklyn from possible K2 synthetic marijuana overdoses. Those being treated were compared to 'The Walking Dead' - http://nydn.us/29BZ2Tg

Synthetic marijuana, also called synthetic cannabinoids, refer to a growing number of man-made mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked (herbal incense) or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices (liquid incense); sometimes they mix the sprayed plant material with marijuana, or they brew it as tea.

These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are related to chemicals found in the marijuana plant. Because of this similarity, synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes misleadingly called "synthetic marijuana," and they are often marketed as "safe," legal alternatives to that drug. In fact, they may affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana; their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, severe or even life-threatening.

Manufacturers sell these herbal incense products in colorful foil packages and sell similar liquid incense products, like other e-cigarette fluids, in plastic bottles. They market these products under a wide variety of specific brand names; in past years, K2 and Spice were common. Hundreds of other brand names now exist, such as Joker, Black Mamba, Kush, and Kronic.

For several years, synthetic cannabinoid mixtures have been easy to buy in drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, gas stations, and through the Internet. Because the chemicals used in them have a high potential for abuse and no medical benefit, authorities have made it illegal to sell, buy, or possess some of these chemicals. However, manufacturers try to sidestep these laws by changing the chemical formulas in their mixtures.

Easy access and the belief that synthetic cannabinoid products are "natural" and therefore harmless have likely contributed to their use among young people. Another reason for their use is that standard drug tests cannot easily detect many of the chemicals used in these products.

Synthetic cannabinoid users report some effects similar to those produced by marijuana:

  • elevated mood
  • relaxation
  • altered perception-awareness of surrounding objects and conditions
  • symptoms of psychosis-delusional or disordered thinking detached from reality
Psychotic effects include:
  • extreme anxiety
  • confusion
  • paranoia-extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
  • hallucinations-sensations and images that seem real though they are not

People who have used synthetic cannabinoids and have been taken to emergency rooms have shown severe effects including:

  • rapid heart rate
  • vomiting
  • violent behavior
  • suicidal thoughts

Synthetic cannabinoids can also raise blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart, as well as kidney damage and seizures. Use of these drugs is associated with a rising number of deaths.

Synthetic cannabinoids can be addictive. Regular users trying to quit may have the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • headaches
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • irritability

For more information about synthetic cannabinoids, visit: www.dea.gov/druginfo/drug_data_sheets/K2_Spice.pdf.




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