Synthetic Cannabinoids: Definition, Effects, and Testing
Is Synthetic Weed Dangerous?
Synthetic cannabinoids have been around for a while. They are very popular among users because most believe they are a safer and more natural alternative to marijuana. But is this true? Are these substances less risky? Are they even legal?
Today, we will talk about synthetic cannabinoids, also known as “spice”. Better yet, we will also answer a few concerns you might have, such as "does spice show up on drug tests?” or “how dangerous is synthetic weed?”
What are Synthetic Cannabinoids
First, synthetic cannabinoids describe not just one drug, but a wide variety of them. They are man-made, mind-altering substances grouped under NPS or new psychoactive substances. They are designed to imitate the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active component of marijuana, hence the “cannabinoid” label. They come in a variety of names like fake weed and spice.
Synthetic cannabinoids are often sprayed on dried plant material, which replicates actual marijuana. These dried plants can then be rolled into cigars or brewed as a tea. Synthetic cannabinoids also come in a liquid form, where they can be used in e-cigarettes or boiled to be inhaled.
Artificial weed has various brand names. Prominent ones include K2, Spice, and Kush. They are often sold as an alternative to marijuana, with colorful and vibrant packaging to attract younger users.
Alarming Trends in Synthetic Cannabinoids
There has been a sudden surge in synthetic cannabinoid users. This is because, one, these drugs are highly addictive, which increases their demand. And, two, they are easily accessible. Such synthetic cannabinoids are readily available and can be bought online or in convenience stores.
Unfortunately, there is no real medical benefit when taking these drugs. Instead, the synthetic weed side effects are severely life-threatening. The combination of the drug's popularity and its concerning dangers has grown into a nationwide health crisis.
The dangers of synthetic weed lie in people's perception of it. Many believe they are a natural and safe alternative to marijuana, when, in fact, they are riskier. The substance also doesn't show up as quickly in synthetic weed drug tests.
Synthetic weed is also unregulated, so there’s the danger of manufacturers not following health standards when producing them. Cannabinoid levels can vary wildly per batch or brand. Some even slip other toxic substances, like synthetic cathinone, into the mix.
The Effects of Synthetic Cannabinoids
Just how bad is synthetic weed? Overall, these substances can cause severe sickness, even death. They have no real medical benefit.
Synthetic cannabinoids more firmly bind to brain cells than THC; hence their effects are much stronger. However, adverse health effects are amplified, as well.
At first, users will experience feelings of euphoria and relaxation. But with increased usage, the symptoms become more severe.
Synthetic marijuana’s effects on body functions include risks to the cardiovascular system, which can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. Most users also encounter gastrointestinal problems, difficulty breathing, and kidney failure.
On top of this, synthetic cannabinoids also have a dramatic impact on brain functions and mental health. Most long term users suffer from attention problems, confusion, dizziness, and irritability. At worst, addicts begin to display violent behavior, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts.
Are Synthetic Cannabinoids Legal
Synthetic weed is quickly becoming a public health crisis. Therefore, the federal government has declared many of these substances illegal. States also have their own laws that prohibit the use of these cannabinoids.
However, the situation is much more complicated. Government regulation only bans categories of chemicals and not the synthetic cannabinoids themselves.
Since it is man-made, manufacturers adapt by merely altering the formulas of their products to get past regulation. Another tactic is labeling the product as “not for human consumption” as a loophole on these laws.
That is the reason why it’s been particularly hard for governments to eradicate all illegal synthetic cannabinoids.
Since many synthetic cannabinoids are undetectable on traditional marijuana drug tests, users are difficult to prosecute and investigate, too. Does spice show up on a drug test? It rarely does. Therefore, seldom do users face the harsh legal consequences that may be associated with synthetic cannabinoid usage.
Are Synthetic Cannabinoids Addicting
Just like real marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids are notoriously addicting. That's because they work the same way as the THC in marijuana, binding to brain cells, and producing a "high." Plus, every batch of synthetic cannabinoids is unpredictable; a higher than normal dose can introduce a powerful addiction.
If you’ve been using synthetic cannabinoids, you’ll experience painful withdrawal symptoms as well. The longer you use these substances, the more intense these symptoms will be.
At best, you’ll have difficulty sleeping. You might also suffer from headaches, anxiety, nausea, and excessive sweating. Severe symptoms include a rapid heart rate, seizures, palpitations, and chest pains.
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