Anyone who is a fan of the good green herb has by now heard of synthetic marijuana. The common knowledge is that this product is a synthetic cannabinoid, similar to THC, sprayed onto plant material such as marshmallow, chamomile, or other naturally relaxing herbs. Supposedly you can buy it in a head shop or online, smoke it, and enjoy all the high of marijuana without failing a drug test for THC. The downside, as thousands of people are finding out, is that it can kill you.
The many dangers of synthetic marijuana
For anyone who knows and loves cannabis, the term synthetic marijuana is a farce. There is nothing like marijuana involved. The side effects of synthetic cannabinoids can include seizures, uncontrollable vomiting, low blood pressure, passing out, and even death. Most people would ask the next logical question, which is “Why?”
The truth is, the compounds in cannabis are all partial agonists, meaning they only partially bind to the cannabinoid receptors in our bodies, the same way our bodies natural cannabinoids perform. This means that they have a limited effect duration and intensity, despite concentration. The cannabinoid system in the body regulates many vital functions, and while marijuana has a therapeutic or mind-altering effect, it’s effects are short term and do not interfere with these functions.
Synthetic cannabinoids are full agonists. They bind completely to the receptors, and can remain attached indefinitely. This means that their effects can soon be overwhelming, with the body and mind unable to balance them out.
We have seen this problem before
Alcohol became dangerous during the Prohibition of the early 1900’s due to “bathtub gin”, a product made of wood grain alcohols, or distilled in stills made from car radiators and other materials contaminated with deadly metals. The same principle applies to cannabis.
The ONLY reason products like K2, Spice, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Genie, Zohai Orange, Blaze, Red X, Dawn, and Mr. Nice Guy have a market in the first place is because cannabis is illegal, and tested for in many jobs. Uncontrolled manufacturing processes combined with a market where people would buy whatever they could get their hands on. Even the plant material used could be a plant that could be dangerous to human health by itself. There are no product safety controls.
So why doesn’t the government make them illegal?
They are trying. And while logic would say that once they are illegal, synthetic marijuana won’t be around anymore, once you take into account that prohibition never works, there is still another factor.
While manufacturers get through legal loopholes with disclaimers and labels saying it is “incense” or “not for human consumption”, there are over 450 synthetic cannabinoids. Every time one is outlawed, the commercial makers switch to a different one and keep selling. There are also the black market batches which don’t even bother with using cannabinoids. There is nothing to prevent dealers from lacing the plant material with harsher, highly addictive drugs or dangerous household chemicals and passing it off as “fake weed” to trick and addict a larger customer base.
Therapeutic index: The big factor
Cannabis is a safe, non-toxic plant with an amazing therapeutic index. The therapeutic index is a scale that shows the difference in dosage between what it takes to feel the effects, and what it takes to kill a person. Most foods and beverages have a rather large index, but virtually any substance in high enough amounts will kill you. Oxygen, water, carrots. These can all kill you in high enough quantities in a short period of time.
Cannabis has a larger index than anything else we ingest. It would take well over a hundred pounds of extremely high-grade cannabis being ingested in 15 minutes to even come close to threatening a human life. There has never been a case of overdosing of cannabis in recorded history, and it has been in use for thousands of years.
Some of the synthetic cannabinoids out there have index values that are hundreds, and even thousands of times smaller than even extracted, pure THC. With “Spice” being made in garages, by amateur chemists at best in some cases, the safety level is along the lines of having a bomb in the room… being diffused by a blind person… with a chainsaw.
Have you or someone you know someone who smoked cannabis and tried “fake weed”? Share your experiences with us on our social media page or in the comments section below.