Synthetic marijuana, while under studied in both the medical and academic field, has again gained notoriety in the news as of late. The stories relating to deaths and emergency room visits attributed to this drug seem to grow every year. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for the first half of 2015 across the United States, there was a 229 percent increase in reported emergency service calls relating to the abuse of synthetic marijuana. Also, for the first half of 2015, there were 15 reported deaths directly related to the use of this drug.
The problems relating to this substance isn’t only limited to the smaller minorities within our society. In early 2016, New England Patriots linebacker and superstar Chandler Jones was hospitalized due to a negative reaction to the drug. He’s hardly a singularity. In another similar case, Derrick Coleman, fullback for the Seattle Seahawks admitted to smoking synthetic marijuana before being involved in a hit-and-run accident, to which a witness reported he was acting “delirious and aggravated.” However, there seems to be confusion and misunderstanding in many different sites online as to what this drug actually is, which begs the question, what exactly is synthetic marijuana?
What Is synthetic marijuana?
Synthetic marijuana is considered to be a part of a group of drugs known as “new psychoactive substances” or NPS. Drugs, or substances, under NPS are typically mind-altering in effect and freely available on the market. In most places, NPS is considered legal and unregulated. The purpose of these substances is to copy or mimic the effect of the real substances it’s based on—such as marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, etc.
Although it is commonly known as synthetic marijuana, many scientists dislike the term, saying it’s “highly inaccurate in its effect.” They prefer calling it a “synthetic cannabinoid,” which they consider a far more accurate term.
Known more popularly on the streets as “fake weed,” a problem faced by city governments across the country is the inability to regulate it, leaving it an untapped market; an untapped market prime for less-than-reputable businesses.
Distributors of the drug often sell it by utilizing false advertisements. This not only helps to ensure protect the supplier from legal repercussions, but also includes actions like labeling the product as “not for human consumption,” which they follow with a fine print saying that it should only be used for incense purposes. However, the pictures on either the baggies or containers it’s in portray the drug it is mimicking.
Common names for it include the following:
- Black Mamba
Synthetic marijuana can be injected, however, it is mostly smoked.
What Does It Do?
One of the reasons synthetic marijuana is so dangerous, whether if it’s abused or first-time use, is because it is extremely more powerful than regular marijuana. According to the CDC, most synthetic marijuana found in American stores are nearly 300 times more powerful than regular THC, creating dangers for the user that, due to the lack of information and studies on the matter, remain largely unknown.
Synthetic marijuana first affects the brain by binding to the cannabinoid receptors within it. These cannabinoid receptors in the brain are responsible for appetite control, pain-sensation and modulation, mood, and memory among other actions. THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana also binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. However, with this synthetic drug, it binds much more efficiently, which increases the danger posed by ingesting the drug.
The effects felt by synthetic marijuana vary widely depending on the batch. Because the drug is unregulated, this means that there is no supervision over the process of developing the substance. This then makes every batch different than the last. What distributors put into these batches are unknown. But, in order to cut costs, distributors will often add dangerous toxic chemicals to their batches.
The effects typically reported are the following:
- Elevate mood
- Extreme anxiety
Other more dangerous side-effects include:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Rapid heart rate
- Violent behavior
Side note: There is not enough current research conducted on synthetic marijuana to fully and thoroughly understand its full effects and ramifications on the brain.
Need Professional Help?
Although illicit and prescription drug abuse and addiction is a serious problem, the rise of emergency room visits and deaths from synthetic marijuana abuse across the country is a cause for concern. According to the CDC, since 2015, there have been more than 27 deaths directly attributed to the use of synthetic marijuana or other forms of the drug.
If you, or a loved, are suffering from substance abuse or addiction, especially with any type of synthetic drug, it is urgent to seek help as soon as possible. The faster you react to the abuse and addiction of synthetic substances, the more likely you are to avoid long-term damages left behind from it. There is a true and ever-present danger when dealing with synthetic drugs that, in many cases, are far more dangerous than the actual drugs they’re mimicking. Don’t wait; call us today at 1-800-220-4352.