- Fake Weed — Dangerous Designer Drugs
- How many overdoses and deaths are related to synthetic drugs?
- How much do you know about synthetic drugs?
- What substances are on the list of synthetic drugs?
- What are synthetic drug laws?
- What is synthetic marijuana?
- How is synthetic marijuana made?
- Is fake weed bad for you?
- What does fake weed look ?
- What are some fake weed names?
- Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2/Spice) DrugFacts | National Institute on Drug Abuse
- How do people use synthetic cannabinoids?
- How do synthetic cannabinoids affect the brain?
- What are some other health effects of synthetic cannabinoids?
- Are synthetic cannabinoids addictive?
- Can you overdose on synthetic cannabinoids?
- Learn More
- Two deaths, 54 other cases of severe bleeding tied to fake weed in Illinois
- 'There could be additional deaths coming'
- What is fake weed?
Fake Weed — Dangerous Designer Drugs
Spice and K2, the OG synthetic cannabinoids, debuted in 2008, but many other forms of fake weed followed, often with a slightly different chemical makeup to subdue fresh laws surrounding these dangerous designer drugs. Keep reading to learn more.
How many overdoses and deaths are related to synthetic drugs?
Early detection of new synthetic drugs is a challenge because they are easily modified. The difference of one molecule makes a new formula just as effective (if not more effective) and the new formula is legal while the previous formula is deemed illegal.
However, the dangers of designer and synthetic drugs are still a concern even though the last government studies were in 2010 and 2011. These studies are no doubt aged due to the speed at which manufacturers revise chemical compounds to run circles around laws and to keep these dangerous synthetic drugs on the white market and dark web.
Under the direction of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Drug Abuse Abuse Network (DAWN) is a comprehensive public health monitoring system designed to track visits to emergency rooms related to recent drug use. This initiative offers critical information on emerging patterns in the use of substances in the US.
In 2014, DAWN published data regarding emergency room visits involving synthetic cannabinoid use, and it’s quite alarming.
From 2010 to 2011, synthetic cannabinoid related emergency room visits more than tripled among 12 to 20-year-olds.
ER visits among 12 to 17-year-olds were higher in 2011 than in 2010, but ER visits among 18 to 20-year-olds increased more from 2010 to 2011 than the younger age group. This data suggests that synthetic cannabinoid use was initiated by teens and then was later more popular (and more heavily used) among young adults.
Later in this post, we take a closer look at how these numbers compare to ER visits from the use of natural marijuana.
Fake weed vs real weed: which is worse? Addiction treatment is in reach through our partial hospitalization program. Dial (828) 518-6996 to speak with an Asheville Recovery Center representative to begin your journey.
How much do you know about synthetic drugs?
What are designer drugs? What are synthetic drugs? What are the differences?
Within most of the drug vernacular, the terms designer drugs and synthetic drugs are often interchanged. However, there is a small distinction between the two.
The designer drugs definition is described as drugs that have been selectively created by compounds resembling any other form of controlled substances, and usually prescription drugs.
They were designed to imitate the prescription drug’s effects so that they could not be identified easily during drug screenings.
New designer drugs continue to be illicitly manufactured to keep them accessible without needing a prescription for the real thing, and many party drugs are also considered designer drugs.
The synthetic drugs definition is described as drugs that have been developed in the laboratory and have been engineered to be identical to natural substances such as marijuana, heroin, and opium.
The chemical composition of the synthetic drug is nowhere close to the composition of the substance that is cultivated from natural sources such as seeds, leaves, and other parts of plants.
New synthetic drugs also continue to be illicitly manufactured to keep them accessible without the risk of purchasing illegal, natural drugs.
Now that you know the fundamental difference between designer drugs and synthetic drugs, let’s take a closer look at synthetic drugs, specifically synthetic marijuana a.k.a. Spice or K2.
What substances are on the list of synthetic drugs?
All drugs fit into different classes or types and schedules. The classes and types, as designated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, are usually limited to stimulants, hallucinogens, depressants, inhalants, narcotics, and steroids. In addition to these classes, each drug falls into sub-categories of natural, semi-synthetic, and synthetic.
The DEA has also determined schedules I through V depending upon the drug’s acceptable medical use and the drug’s abuse or dependency potential. The schedule level also determines the severity of criminal prosecution.
The table below shows a list of natural and synthetic drugs, their class, schedule, and the most common names for synthetic street drugs.
|Marijuana||Spice, K2, and others||Psychoactive||I|
|Heroin, Morphine (both from parts of opium poppy plant)||Fentanyl, OxyContin||Depressant||I|
|Lysergic Acid Dethylamide (fungus)||LSD||Hallucinogen||I|
|Cocaine, Coca Plant||Bath Salts, Flakka||Stimulant||II|
|Phencyclidine (PCP)||Ketamine||Dissociative, Hallucinogen||III|
The above list is by no means exhaustive, but it does provide some of the more well known synthetic drug types and examples of synthetic drugs.
So, which synthetic drugs are legal and which ones are illegal? Due to the constantly changing chemical compounds of synthetic drugs, the legislation efforts on both federal and state-levels diminish any hopes for standardized synthetic drug laws.
What are synthetic drug laws?
Truthfully, synthetic drug laws aren’t able to keep up with the manufacturers illicitly producing and distributing them, but efforts are consistently made to identify the dangerous chemicals in each version of synthetic cannabinoid that is released.
In July of 2012, the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act was passed which banned five of the most common chemicals found in synthetic marijuana and/or bath salts.
Despite the number of illegal synthetic drugs that were listed in the act (158 to be exact), synthetic drugs that are still legal are sold at convenience stores, gas stations, smoke shops, and head shops all over the US making it fairly easy to buy synthetic drugs, especially for teens and young adults. In addition, a simple click of the mouse using mom or dad’s credit card allows teens and young adults to buy fake weed online.
Because of its accessibility, the dangers of legal synthetic marijuana use are left to parents to discredit; kids as young as 13 are using synthetic marijuana. Educating both parents and youth about what these drugs look and how they are made is our only hope.
What is synthetic marijuana?
The synthetic marijuana definition, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), is a chemically engineered compound similar to the active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The high can resemble that of marijuana when smoked or consumed, but may also result in more serious reactions.
How is synthetic marijuana made?
What is fake weed? Unfortunately, anyone who purchases fake weed has no idea what the ingredients are.
Fake weed is simply some plant material that is sprayed with a mixture of chemicals, and those chemicals are unknown because the packaging has very little information.
In fact, most packaging simply states “not for human consumption” and is often disguised as herbal incense or potpourri.
The specific chemicals aren’t identified until forensic chemists can isolate each chemical used. Sadly, by that time, many individuals have already purchased it, used it, and most ly overdosed on it.
In fact, synthetic marijuana is 100 times more potent than natural marijuana, but it’s poisonous chemicals that cause the high, not THC. These chemicals bind to the same brain receptors as natural marijuana.
Aegis Labs published a clinical update in July 2020. In 2018, there were 470 cases (eight of which led to death) of internal bleeding because a chemical that was isolated from one particular brand of synthetic marijuana was brodifacoum which is commonly used in rat poison. Another blend was analyzed to find roach insecticide.
Additionally, recipes for how to make fake weed have included acetone, which is the same chemical found in nail polish remover and paint remover.
Some sellers of fake weed also sell synthetic marijuana spray or chemically-enhanced rolling papers which claim to provide a more intense high; however, these accessory products only worsen side effects and chances of overdose.
It’s difficult to judge the safety of a product synthetic marijuana; information on the packaging is severely lacking any details on its contents. Even if the contents were provided to the FDA, synthetic marijuana would not be approved.
Is fake weed bad for you?
If you haven’t already put together that fake weed is bad for you the fact that its contents may include some of the same ingredients as rat poison, insecticide, and paint remover, perhaps taking a closer look at what fake weed does to your body will help.
First of all, the illicit manufacturers of synthetic marijuana don’t seem to know what real marijuana is, and if they do, they don’t care that what they distribute is far more dangerous.
Due to the characteristics of a synthetic marijuana high, most people who have used both will tell you that fake weed effects are more akin to those of LSD. In addition, synthetic marijuana side effects, both short-term and long-term, as well as overdose and withdrawal symptoms are extremely worse than those of real weed.
So, what does synthetic marijuana do to you? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, synthetic cannabinoid health effects are extremely unpleasant. Some of the more frightening and life-threatening effects, as shown in the following table, are seizures, stroke, coma, heart attack, kidney failure, brain swelling, and even paralysis.
|acute psychotic episodes, intense hallucinations, severe agitation, disorganized thoughts, paranoid delusions, violence, elevated heart and blood pressure, tremors, seizures, vomiting, agitation, anxiety, pallor, numbness, tingling||nightmares, heavy sweating, nausea, tremors, headaches, extreme tiredness, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, problems thinking clearly||agitation, anxiety, seizures, stroke, coma, heart attack, organ failure||forgetfulness, confusion, paralysis, kidney injury, brain swelling, seizures, hallucinations, aggression, heart palpitations, chest pains|
What’s more frightening is comparing ER visits among 12 to 20-year-olds for synthetic marijuana versus real marijuana. The same study from 2011 referenced previously in this post shows some of these comparisons.
Even more disconcerting is that 56 percent of ER visits in 2011 among 12 to 20-year-olds were related to synthetic cannabinoids while only 26 percent were related to real marijuana.
Our message regarding the use of real marijuana versus synthetic marijuana is that both can be dangerous; however, smoking fake weed has much more dire outcomes.
If you aren’t sure how to tell the difference between fake weed and real weed, the next section includes descriptions, images, and names of synthetic cannabinoids.
What does fake weed look ?
Synthetic marijuana looks very different than real marijuana mainly because fake weed is made of random plant material and is usually small clippings of leaves from plants mullein and damiana. Fake weed will also smell different than real weed – ly a more chemical or floral smell than a deep earthy aroma.
Additionally, synthetic marijuana packaging will appear cartoonish and will always include the phrase “not for human consumption,” as pictured below.
Real marijuana flower, if packaged, will be loaded with information such as THC concentration and legal codes depending on the state in which it’s purchased. It is also typically sold by the gram or ounce as buds rather than pre-chopped plant material.
What are some fake weed names?
Finding a comprehensive synthetic cannabinoids list of brand names is quite difficult because different ones fly on and off the shelves as new laws are passed and as illicit manufacturers continue to modify and distribute them. With that said, here is a non-exhaustive list of brand names of fake weed.
|Bizarro||Demon||Lava Red||Mr. Nice Guy||Scooby Snax|
|Black Diamond||Diablo||Mad Hatter||Ninja||Serenity|
|Cloud 9||Genie||Mojo||Pineapple||Yucatan Fire|
|Crazy Clown||Joker||Mombay Blue||Purple Haze||Zohai|
It’s important to note that all packaged fake weed WILL have the phrase “not for human consumption” and will be under the guise of herbal incense, potpourri, or plant food. Also, be aware that some of these illicit manufactures are also making synthetic cannabinoid vaping products.
Where do I find synthetic marijuana addiction treatment? Treatment for synthetic drugs is just a phone call away. Call Asheville Recovery Center at (828) 518-6996 to inquire about our addiction treatment services.
Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2/Spice) DrugFacts | National Institute on Drug Abuse
Synthetic cannabinoids are human-made mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices. These products are also known as herbal or liquid incense.
These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are similar to chemicals found in the marijuana plant.
Because of this similarity, synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes misleadingly called synthetic marijuana (or fake weed), and they are often marketed as safe, legal alternatives to that drug.
In fact, they are not safe and may affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana; their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, more dangerous or even life-threatening.
Synthetic cannabinoids are part of a group of drugs called new psychoactive substances (NPS). NPS are unregulated mind-altering substances that have become newly available on the market and are intended to produce the same effects as illegal drugs. Some of these substances may have been around for years but have reentered the market in altered chemical forms, or due to renewed popularity.
Synthetic cannabinoid products are often labeled «not for human consumption.» Labels also often claim that they contain natural material taken from a variety of plants. However, the only parts of these products that are natural are the dried plant materials. Chemical tests show that the active, mind-altering ingredients are cannabinoid compounds made in laboratories.
Manufacturers sell these products in colorful foil packages and plastic bottles to attract consumers. They market these products under a wide variety of specific brand names.
For several years, synthetic cannabinoid mixtures have been easy to buy in drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, gas stations, and over the internet.
Because the chemicals used in them have no medical benefit and a high potential for abuse, 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 ly contributed to their use among young people. Another reason for their continued use is that standard drug tests cannot easily detect many of the chemicals used in these products.
How do people use synthetic cannabinoids?
The most common way to use synthetic cannabinoids is to smoke the dried plant material. Users also mix the sprayed plant material with marijuana or brew it as tea. Other users buy synthetic cannabinoid products as liquids to vaporize in e-cigarettes.
How do synthetic cannabinoids affect the brain?
Synthetic cannabinoids act on the same brain cell receptors as THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the mind-altering ingredient in marijuana.
So far, there have been few scientific studies of the effects of synthetic cannabinoids on the human brain, but researchers do know that some of them bind more strongly than marijuana to the cell receptors affected by THC and can produce much stronger effects. The resulting health effects can be unpredictable and dangerous.
Because the chemical composition of many synthetic cannabinoid products is unknown and may change from batch to batch, these products are ly to contain substances that cause dramatically different effects than the user might expect.
Synthetic cannabinoid users report some effects similar to those produced by marijuana:
- elevated mood
- altered perception—awareness of surrounding objects and conditions
- symptoms of psychosis—delusional or disordered thinking detached from reality
Psychotic effects include:
- extreme anxiety
- paranoia—extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
- hallucinations—sensations and images that seem real though they are not
What are some other health effects of synthetic cannabinoids?
People who have used synthetic cannabinoids and have been taken to emergency rooms have shown severe effects including:
- rapid heart rate
- violent behavior
- suicidal thoughts
Are synthetic cannabinoids addictive?
Yes, synthetic cannabinoids can be addictive. Regular users trying to quit may have the following withdrawal symptoms:
Behavioral therapies and medications have not specifically been tested for treatment of addiction to these products. Health care providers should screen patients for possible co-occurring mental health conditions.
Can you overdose on synthetic cannabinoids?
Yes. An overdose occurs when a person uses too much of a drug and has a dangerous reaction that results in serious, harmful symptoms or death. Use of synthetic cannabinoids can cause:
- toxic reactions
- elevated blood pressure
- reduced blood supply to the heart
- kidney damage
Deaths can also occur when dangerous synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, are added to the packaged mixture without the user knowing it.
- Synthetic cannabinoids refer to a growing number of human-made mind-altering chemicals sprayed on dried, shredded plant material or vaporized to produce a high.
- Synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes misleadingly called synthetic marijuana (or fake weed) because they act on the same brain cell receptors as THC, the mind-altering ingredient in marijuana.
- The effects of synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable and severe or even life-threatening.
- The only parts of synthetic cannabinoid products that are natural are the dried plant materials. Chemical tests show that their active ingredients are human-made cannabinoid compounds.
- Synthetic cannabinoid users report some effects similar to those produced by marijuana:
- elevated mood
- altered perception
- symptoms of psychosis
- Synthetic cannabinoids can also cause serious mental and physical health problems including:
- rapid heart rate
- violent behavior
- suicidal thoughts
- Synthetic cannabinoids can be addictive.
- Behavioral therapies and medications have not specifically been tested for treatment of addiction to these products.
- Overdoses can occur and can cause:
- toxic reactions
- raised blood pressure
- reduced blood supply to the heart
- kidney damage
- Deaths can occur when dangerous synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, are added without the user knowing.
For additional information about synthetic cannabinoids, visit:
- NIDA for Teens Drug Facts on Spice — Offers resources for teens and teen influencers. Get the latest on how drugs affect the brain and body. Features videos, games, blog posts, and more!
This publication is available for your use and may be reproduced in its entirety without permission from NIDA. Citation of the source is appreciated, using the following language: Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Two deaths, 54 other cases of severe bleeding tied to fake weed in Illinois
- 56 severe bleeding cases, two fatal, are tied to synthetic cannabinoids in Illinois
- «This is the first time we've seen an outbreak of this magnitude in the area,» an official says
(CNN)Synthetic cannabinoids — often called Spice, K2 or fake weed — have been tied to 56 cases of severe bleeding, including two deaths, across Chicago and areas in central Illinois.
All of the cases required hospitalization related to coughing up blood, blood in the urine, bloody nose, bleeding gums and other symptoms. Nine of the cases tested positive for brodifacoum, or rat poison, according to a statement from the Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday.
Now, state officials are working to identify any common synthetic cannabinoid products related to those cases and to determine where the products were obtained.
There are still many questions about the illnesses; officials are not aware what exactly caused the drug contamination, but investigators and toxicologists are continuing to evaluate.
«This is the first time we've seen an outbreak of this magnitude in the area,» Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health, said Monday.
«We're working with numerous different partners across the city and state as we investigate this outbreak,» she said.
Synthetic cannabinoids are sold in convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores and even online.
Health officials warn that anyone who has a reaction to synthetic cannabinoids immediately should call 911 or be taken to an emergency department.
'There could be additional deaths coming'
«We continue to see the number of cases rise,» Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said in the statement.
The department «is continuing to work with local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with other partners, to try to identify common products,» he said. «Without more information, IDPH does not know how much contaminated product is circulating or where. We strongly urge everyone not to use synthetic cannabinoids.»
Though 17 of the recent cases were tied to synthetic cannabinoid products in Chicago, contaminated products could be statewide, the Department of Public Health noted.
There also were five cases in Cook County, two in Kankakee County, 14 in Peoria County, 12 in Tazewell County and one in each of the counties of DuPage, Kane, McLean and Will. Two other cases are under investigation.
One of the deaths was in Chicago and the other in central Illinois.
Officials had never before seen a death in Chicago related to fake weed, Arnold said.
«There could be additional deaths coming; it is difficult to say,» she added. «We're doing whatever we can with regards to outreach to notify any who may be impacted by this outbreak.»
What is fake weed?
This isn't the first time a region of the United States has seen an outbreak of health problems tied to synthetic cannabinoids.
Last year, 102 people in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, overdosed on synthetic marijuana within three days. None of those cases was fatal.
In 2016, 33 people in Brooklyn were made ill from suspected overdoses of synthetic pot.
The number of acute poisonings from synthetic cannabinoids rose sharply between 2010 and 2015, according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016.
During that time, physicians treated 456 patients total for synthetic cannabinoid intoxications.
Synthetic cannabinoids, or fake weed, are human-made chemicals that can be sprinkled on dried, shredded plant material and smoked, or can be consumed as vaporized liquids inhaled through an e-cigarette or other device.
These mind-altering chemicals are called cannabinoids, since they are similar to the chemicals found in marijuana, though they can cause serious side effects that are different from those of marijuana.
One study of a synthetic cannabinoid found that it was 85 times as potent as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the mind-altering chemical in marijuana. That study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2016.
People who smoke synthetic cannabinoids can have rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion and hallucinations, according to the CDC.
In the past few years, doctors have become familiar with the health outcomes people can face when they are exposed to synthetic cannabinoids, said Dr. Patrick Lank, an emergency physician and assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Illinois.
«They include things seizures, heart attack, kidney failure,» said Lank, who was not involved in the recent synthetic cannabinoid cases.
«What's happening in Illinois is different, and these are bleeding complications. Why they're happening? We're still uncertain,» he said. «We don't know if the supply of synthetic cannabinoids in Illinois and the Chicago area have been tainted by someone with brodifacoum, or rat poison. Or if this is potentially a new side effect of a new synthetic cannabinoid.»
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