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Synthetic marijuana is a designer drug that first gained usage and popularity in the early 2000’s. Prior to its official ban and reclassification as a controlled-substance in 2012, Synthetic marijuana typically sold in stores as incense or other seemingly innocent products — marked “not for human consumption”, and under various name brands. It was created as a legal alternative to traditional marijuana.

However, unlike traditional marijuana, the majority of users of synthetic cannabis had no idea what exactly they are introducing into their bodies. Made to resemble marijuana, synthetic weed is made of dried and shredded plant material (think potpourri), and treated with various, unregulated (and often unknown) psychoactive chemicals. 

How is it used?

In a 2011 survey on adolescent drug use, synthetic marijuana was found to be second in prior usage, falling just behind traditional marijuana. Much like it’s counterpart, synthetic marijuana is typically smoked. Users of synthetic marijuana claim experiences similar to those produced by traditional marijuana—elevated mood, relaxation, and altered perception—and in some cases the effects are claimed to be even stronger than those of traditional marijuana. Some users report psychotic effects like paranoia, hallucinations, and extreme anxiety

What are the dangers?

A 2012 report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that toxicity due to synthetic marijuana resulted in 11,400 cases of emergency room visits in 2010. Complications and health risks from this drug can be life threatening and can include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Seizures
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Profuse sweating
  • Confusion

  • Suicidal or other harmful thoughts 

Unfortunately, for now, incense remains legal in many states and countries and can be purchased by anyone over the age of 18. It is appalling how easy not only is it to get your hands on the drug, but also what’s on the internet. Teens who want best bang for their buck can visit a blog called, “Spice University” and get a review on the best herbal incenses. It is key for parents to be aware of the accessibility of the drug. Parents must take time to speak with their kids about the dangers associated with fake weed (Spice) before it’s too late.


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