Synthetic Cannabinoids: The Dangers of Using Mind-Altering Substances

The use of synthetic substances is so alluring. This is because they are cheap and tend to produce the same effects (if not more) as the original substances. The use of medical marijuana in the US has come with a lot of benefits as well as downsides. Currently, there are products which are known as synthetic cannabinoids in the market. They are easily accessible and according to manufacturers, they have the same effects as the cannabinoids found in marijuana plants. However, synthetic cannabinoids are harmful products and here is what you need to know about them.

What Is a Synthetic Cannabinoid?

This is a man-made cannabidiol that has the same physical characteristics such as marijuana. These cannabinoids contain chemicals which are normally sprayed on dry and shredded plant materials and you can smoke or vape them. Synthetic cannabinoids are also known as liquid incense or herbal incense and using them produces mind-altering effects.

Synthetic cannabinoids are illegal. They don’t act like the original natural cannabinoids which are in marijuana plants. However, they are also called cannabinoids because they contain similar types of chemicals as those in marijuana plants. Because of this similarity, some manufacturers even mislead consumers by calling them fake weed or synthetic marijuana.

These products are not safe and can result in serious health problems. They belong to a group of drugs which are known as the new psychoactive substances (NPS). However, they are usually labeled as safe and legal alternatives to marijuana.  NPS are some of the latest mind-altering substances which are now available in the market. They contain powerful chemicals which can cause unpredictable mental problems. Research shows that they have the same effects as some of the high-profile illegal drugs. Although some of these substances may have in existence years before, they have new reentered the market. This is because of their renewed popularity.  Note that synthetic cannabinoids are much stronger than marijuana. So, their effects particularly the negatives are usually adverse. There multiple instances where these fake cannabinoids have resulted in death.

How Do People Use Synthetic Cannabinoids?

Smoking is the most common way of taking synthetic cannabinoids. Thus it comes with various dangers. This is because these drugs often resemble a marijuana plant that’s dry. You can smoke it using the traditional way. Besides that, you can take with a vaporizer or as an e-cigarette.  There are some users who take this product by brewing it with tea while others may even mix with some marijuana.

Note: synthetic cannabinoids resemble natural marijuana. This why a lot of people simply use it just like marijuana. Most of the times it’s because they are not aware that it’s not the real thing. Mixing it with the real thing is also important for camouflaging. This is to trick those who are aware of synthetic cannabinoids into thinking that they are buying genuine marijuana. Overall, both new and experienced marijuana users are at risk of purchasing these drugs.

Why is Using Synthetic Marijuana Risky?

The use of synthetic cannabinoids has serious health consequences. They give users the “high” feeling. These drugs alter the way the mind functions, leading to neurological and psychological problems. For instance, a synthetic cannabinoid such as Spice perfectly resembles marijuana. However, these dry leaves are from psychoactive plants such as the Wild Dagga and some of them have the ability to absorb toxins from the soil. So, there are high chances that they contain contaminants such as mold, pesticides, salmonella, or heavy metals. The potential risks of using synthetic marijuana include:

Addiction

Natural cannabinoids are not addictive. You can use them for years and discontinue use without experiencing possible side effects. However, synthetic cannabinoids are highly addictive. Trying to discontinue their use usually leads to withdrawal effects. Some of the symptoms that you may experience include irritability, anxiety, headaches, and migraines among others.

Mental Health Problem

These drugs usually affect the brain. Synthetic cannabinoids tend to interact with brain cell receptors just like THC. They alter the mind and possess psychoactive effects. Reports from research studies show that these cannabinoids even bind more strongly to the brain receptors than marijuana. As a result, the produce intense effects. This often leads to dangerous and unexpected health issues.They alter the consumer’s perception. This means that it changes their awareness of surrounding conditions and objects. Additionally, they lead to psychosis. Most of them create delusional thinking that’s far from reality. Some of the psychotic effects of synthetic cannabinoids include:

  • Paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Violent Behaviors
  • Suicidal Thoughts

Risk of Heart Disease

Synthetic cannabinoids can increase the risk of heart disease. They contain ingredients which reduce the flow of blood pressure towards the heart. This can pose serious health risks and sometimes even death. Some people may also end up suffering from a rapid heart rate. Apart from that, they can also end up suffering from seizures and stroke.

Stomach Upsets

Many people suffer from stomach and digestive problems after ingesting synthetic cannabinoids. These drugs contain chemical compounds which react with digestive enzymes. The resulting effect is stomach upsets including the feeling of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Lung Cancer

The presence of butane in synthetic cannabinoids increases your risk of developing lung cancer. Note that in the presence of heat, butane usually burns down to produce toxic gases. The eventual effect can be an aggressive form of lung cancer.

How to Distinguish Synthetic Cannabinoids

It’s important to learn how to distinguish these cannabinoids from the real thing. Note that most sellers usually target people who can’t differentiate between real and fake cannabinoids. These are usually youngsters and those who do not understand the infiltration of the cannabis market.

The Brand Name

There are specific features which can help you recognize a cannabinoid is synthetic. For starters, it’s the name of the product or the brand name. Some of the brand names that are synonymous with the selling of synthetic cannabinoids include:

  • Kronic
  • K2
  • Kush
  • Spice
  • Joker
  • Black Mamba

If you are purchasing a cannabinoid and it’s from one of these brands, drop it. There are high chances that it contains harmful synthetic compounds.

Type of Packaging

Natural cannabinoids usually have a professional-like packaging. This is because most brands which manufacture them tend to adhere to marketing rules and regulations. On the other hand, most synthetic cannabinoids come in brightly-colored sachets or bottles. The idea behind this is to make them more appealing to customers.

Availability and Product Label

Synthetic cannabinoids are available everywhere. You can even purchase them from second-hand retailers. What makes them even more suspicious is most of them lack the ingredients label. You will find them in unauthorized sources and they lack the full ingredients list.

To distinguish synthetic cannabinoids from the real ones, you need to make yourself aware. These products are not going aware anytime soon. Flawed marketing and manufacturing laws, as well as the easy availability of synthetic products, mean that the rate of exposure will still go high. So, educate yourself in order to protect yourself.

Note: these products are sometimes advertised as “not safe for human consumption”.

What Can We Protect Ourselves?

The health risks which synthetic cannabinoids pose are serious. This is because of factors such as adulteration, substitution, and contamination. Additionally, consumers are also at risk of inconsistent dosages. But how can you protect yourself from these illegal drugs? The FDA does not regulate the medical marijuana industry. This means that it’s possible to find these cannabinoids in the market. Lack of proper laws means that manufacturers can sell them discreetly. As a result, buyers are still under the exposure of harmful products.

So, to promote consumer protection, there is the need to amend the marijuana laws. Restrictive and prohibitive laws which make marijuana illegal need to be changed. Making it legal means that there will be proper rules and regulation for manufacturing and selling cannabinoids. Parents, teachers, and members of the public health sector need to take the necessary action. Adults, as well as children, need to be aware of the potential health risks of synthetic cannabinoids.

Lastly, the government needs to carry out on the importation of legal products. Border rules have to change and imported products need to be thoroughly tested. This is because synthetic cannabinoids are mainly manufactured overseas. So, shipping companies need to implement better scan freights.

Final Thoughts

To patients using medical marijuana, there is no doubt that it’s effective in promoting good health. However, the marijuana industry is not under tight regulation. This means that they are so many synthetic products such as cannabinoids which find their way into this market. Synthetic cannabinoids are dangerous drugs which contain active chemical compounds that are mind-altering. If you want to use medical marijuana, ensure that you familiarize yourself with these fake cannabinoids and their dangers.

Sources

  • https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cannabinoids-k2spice
  • https://www.marijuanabreak.com/synthetic-cannabinoids
  • https://americanaddictioncenters.org/synthetic-cannabinoids
  • https://ndews.umd.edu/resources/synthetic-cannabinoids

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