We've been hearing a lot in the news about hospitalizations and even deaths caused by so-called "synthetic marijuana" - also known as "spice" or K2. But while spice, like cannabis, is dried plant matter consumed by packing it into a bong, or rolling it into cigarettes, it's a completely different - and far more dangerous - game than smoking a regular joint.
If synthetic weed isn't weed, what is it? Frankly, it's generally impossible for users to know for sure. Spice manufacturers often bypass the law by using chemicals that are new, and changing, faster than lawmakers can prohibit their sale. Those chemicals are sprayed onto dried plant matter - like licorice, damiana or mullein - to produce a psychoactive effect.
Since the chemicals and their potency are unregulated, the dosage and effects of spice or K2 are unpredictable. In a recent Reddit thread, Redditors weighed in on the drug's scary effects.
Says Redditor MelGibsonMeinFuhrer, "I did it last time a couple of years ago, and I understand it's even more dangerous these days. One friend went into some form of psychosis from it, he was on medication for it etc, after smoking it regularly like we did weed. I just felt strange for a couple of days after I smoked it. He explained his reaction however as if time slowed down. It took 15 minutes to walk from his home to our school and he said it felt like hours, every day, so we started to walk him home because it wasn't as bad when he was not alone. That lasted for maybe six months for him until the meds helped him."
Another user, Pugsly2358, explains: "I ruined my stomach, lungs, and almost my brain from smoking synthetic cannabinoids. A place in Vegas was giving out free samples of an in-house batch. The concentration was way beyond safe limits. So much so that the store staff jumped to pull the waterpipe away when I went for a second hit."
Perhaps most disturbing is this account from user Waitwait_dangerzone: "I smoked [the commonly-used spice chemicals] JWH-018, -073, and -250 every single day for 2+ years. It got so bad we were just ordering the pure chemicals and smoking it like fucking crack. We would mix them different ways for different highs, scrape bowls for hours on end to smoke the resin, etc...I still haven't come to terms with it all. I ended up in the ER 4 or 5 times, countless visits to doctors, shrinks, etc... It's truly been a nightmare."
The bottom line: calling this addictive and extremely dangerous class of drugs "synthetic marijuana" is a serious misnomer - and consumers should take great caution to not be fooled.
Watch the harrowing VICE documentary about people who have become addicted to "spice" below.