Synthetic Cannabis

spice

Synthetic cannabis is a psychoactive herbal and chemical product which, when consumed mimics the effects of cannabis. It is best known by the brand names K2 and Spice, both of which have largely become genericized trademarks used to refer to any synthetic cannabis product. A type of synthetic cannabis sold in Australasia is known as Kronic.

Professor John W. Huffman who first synthesized many of the cannabinoids used in synthetic cannabis is quoted as saying, ‘People who use it are idiots. You don’t know what it’s going to do to you.’ Heavy Spice users who cut back are known to experience withdrawal symptoms, similar to those associated with withdrawing from the use of narcotics. The lack of an antipsychotic chemical, similar to cannabidiol found in natural cannabis, may make synthetic cannabis more likely to induce psychosis than natural cannabis.

When synthetic cannabis blends first went on sale in the early 2000s it was thought that they achieved an effect through a mixture of legal herbs. Laboratory analysis in 2008 showed this was not the case and that they in fact contained synthetic cannabinoids which act on the body in a similar way to cannabinoids naturally found in cannabis, such as THC. A large and complex variety of synthetic cannabinoids, most often cannabicyclohexanol, JWH-018, JWH-073, or HU-210, are used in an attempt to avoid the laws which make cannabis illegal, making synthetic cannabis a designer drug.

It is often marketed as ‘herbal incense,’ however some brands market their products as ‘herbal smoking blends.’ In either case the products are usually smoked by users. Although synthetic cannabis does not produce positive results in drug tests for cannabis, it is possible to detect its metabolites in human urine. The synthetic cannabinoids contained in synthetic cannabis products have been made illegal in many European countries. As of March 2011, five cannabinoids, JWH-018, JWH-073, CP-47,497, JWH-200, and cannabicyclohexanol are illegal in the US. No official studies have been conducted on its effects on humans. Though its effects are not well documented, extremely large doses may cause negative effects that are generally not noted in marijuana users, such as increased agitation and vomiting.

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