What You Need to Know Before Experimenting with Synthetic Cannabis

Synthetic cannabis

Synthetic cannabis isn't derived from cannabis, but from a range of not-well-known synthetic materials that mimic cannabinoids. src

What Constitutes 'Synthetic Cannabis'?

Synthetic cannabis mimics nearly every characteristic of cannabis, except it's far more toxic than cannabis. It's a designer drug meant for people who're desperate enough for a high to risk all the dangers that might come with it, including possible death.

Synthetic cannabis products are not derived from cannabis, but are artificial compounds that replicate the effects of cannabis on the same system of receptors targeted by cannabinoids.

Synthetic cannabis kicks the interaction into much higher gears, inducing more intense effects. Synthetic cannabinoids can outstrip the potency of THC by 2 - 100 times. They also induce more intense side effects, including vomiting, headaches, chest pain, vision blackouts, psychosis, high blood pressure, etc.

Compared to synthetic THC like Marinol which is FDA-approved in the U.S for the treatment of certain illnesses, synthetic cannabis products neither have any certificate of analysis from independent bodies verifying their components, nor have they any proven therapeutic benefits. However, since they're made from synthetic materials that are legal, they're often passed off as legal products.

They can be identified by a multiplicity of monikers like synthetic cannabinds, SC, synncanns, as well as several brand names like K2, Spice, etc. New varieties are frequently emerging with new ingredients used to skirt legalities. They're sold discreetly in smoke shops, gas stations, and online stores.

Should you Experiment with Synthetic Cannabis?
difference between synthetic cannabis and cannabis

The difference between synthetic cannabis and cannabis.  img src

It's ill-advised to experiment with synthetic cannabis because there's no way you can verify the details of its production process. As a chemical product meant for consumption, any error in its production process poses a critical health risk.

Many manufacturers are guilty of negligence or inexperience in the implementation of various aspects of the manufacturing process. For instance, an uneven spray job results in product batches with chemical 'hot spots' or dangerously potent packages. The customer who ends up with the heavily concentrated package will most likely battle a barrage of side effects.

Recently a synthetic cannabis product was found to induce uncontrollable internal bleeding in hundreds of people who consumed it.  Lab results showed that the product was tainted with rat poison.

Before you begin experimenting with synthetic cannabis, you need to make sure that it has undergone potency analysis at a reliable independent lab and that its cannabinoids source is innocuous.

If you can't verify whether or not these criteria have been met by a synthetic cannabis product, then you might be courting disaster if you still want to go and experiment with the drug.

Many people still take the risk mostly because cannabis is illegal in their locality and also because synthetic cannabis doesn't show up in a urine analysis. However, these users risk life-threatening consequences just for a recreational high.

Serious Health Risks Surrounding Synthetic Cannabis

With the rapid rate at which new variants of the drug are emerging, it's hard to keep track of the side effects of synthetic cannabis. This rate of proliferation by far outstrips that of studies carried out to identify the range of effects of the drug. "The problem with JWH-018 (a synthetic cannabinoid compound) is that absolutely nothing is known regarding its toxicity or metabolites," decried John Huffman, a researcher who helped create the JWH-018 chemical. "Therefore, it is potentially dangerous and should not be used." JWH-018, also known as 1-Pentyl-3-(1-naphthyl) indole, is a Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S.

Studies done so far associate synthetic cannabis with severe side effects like fatal heart attacks and serious kidney injuries that result in dialysis.

In a particular study, drivers arrested under the influence of synthetic cannabis were compared to others arrested for cannabis impairment. The study found a significantly higher intensity of side effects like confusion, incoherence, disorientation, slurred speech, etc in the former group than in the latter.

Other potential side effects noted in studies include:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations

The Government and the Police are Cracking Down on Synthetic Cannabis

The Government has become more aggressive in its crackdown on synthetic cannabis dealers. A new regulation in place grants the police discretionary powers to help speed up the prosecution of user offenses to decongest the courts. However, the new regulation emphasize on the apprehension of organized dealers and suppliers and a health-based approach to the prosecution of possession offenders. In essence, the new regulation allocates more policing resources to serious offenses involving unsuspecting victims and the exposure of others to health risks.