Spice (Synthetic Marijuana)

Published on March 6th, 2014

The word “Spice” refers to a wide array of herbal mixtures that are marketed as a safe and legal alternative to marijuana, producing similar effects. Synthetic marijuana spices are sold under many different names including; K2, fake weed, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, and Moon Rocks. These spices are labeled “not for human consumption”  and contain dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives that are responsible for their psychoactive mind-altering effects.

Spice Products Have Become Scheduled I Controlled Substances

Spice mixtures have been easy to obtain within head shops and gas stations and via the Internet for several years.The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has designated the five active chemicals most frequently found in Spice as Schedule I controlled substances, making it illegal to sell, buy, or possess them because the chemicals used in Spice have a high potential for abuse and no medical benefit. Many manufacturers of Spice products have attempted to evade these legal restrictions by substituting different chemicals in their mixtures. However, the DEA continues to monitor and evaluate these spice products, regularly updating the list of banned cannabinoids.

Spice products are most popular among young people; it currently falls under the list of illicit drugs most used by high-school seniors, and is second only to marijuana. Te popularity of these spice products is due to the easy access and the misconception that Spice products are “natural”, many assuming that they are harmless. The chemicals used in Spice are not easily detected in standard drug tests, adding to its popularity amongst drug abusers.

How Is Spice Abused?

Many spice products are sold as incense, closely resembling potpourri. Spice is typically smoke, just as marijuanna is. However it can also be mixed with marijuana or within an herbal infusion drink.

How Does Spice Affect the Brain?

The affects of spice on the brain are very similar to those produced by marijuana. Users report experiencing elevated mood, relaxation, and altered perception, some stating that the effects are even stronger than those of marijuana. Psychotic effects like extreme anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations have also been reported by users.

Today there have been no scientific studies have been made in regards to Spice’s effects on the human brain. However, we do know that the cannabinoid compounds found in Spice products act on the same cell receptors as THC, which is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana. There are certain compounds that are found in spice that bind more strongly to those receptors which causes powerful and unpredictable effects. The chemical composition of most spice products is unknown, which causes dramatically different effects with each product used.


What Are the Other Health Effects of Spice?

Spice products can result in rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations, most abusers experiencing these require a visit to the emergency room and poison control. It can cause a raise in blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart (myocardial ischemia). Spice has even been associated with heart attacks. Those who abuse spice products on a regular basis may experience withdrawal and addiction symptoms.


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