Why you might just want to go for the real thing instead
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
As Canadians, we’re rather proud of the quality of marijuana our glorious land produces, especially in British Columbia. This, in conjunction with the relatively easy-going possession laws regarding pot, has ensured that the idea of synthetic marijuana has remained somewhat of a continued mystery to us. However, if you know people in the United States in areas where pot is still illegal and heavily prosecuted, then you might have heard of K2 and Spice.
K2 and Spice have become the most widely used names for synthetic cannabinoids, which is actually a family of designer drugs that have been deceptively named.
Originally introduced in the early 2000s, synthetic pot is a blend of chemicals that has been sprayed on a smokable, plant-based material, usually tobacco or some form of clove. They are often sold under the moniker of “herbal smoking blends” or as a form of incense. The chemicals used are intended to produce the same effects that marijuana’s naturally occurring psychoactive chemical, THC, produces. However, despite the “herbal” label, these blends are not organic or natural in any way, but because they contain “herbs”—in the form of the plant-based material that the chemicals have been sprayed on—advertising the blends as “herbal” is completely legal.
Along the same lines of loop-hole based logic, manufacturers have produced many variants of synthetic marijuana that carefully skirt around troublesome laws by using chemicals that are not illegal for recreational drug use. The problem is that these lab-created mash-ups often have adverse effects, such as causing psychotic breaks in individuals several months after exposure. Because these chemicals can be mixed in any number of ways, as soon as the legality of one formula comes into question, another one is ready to take its place almost immediately. Due to this ability to replace chemicals, a crack-down on synthetic marijuana is near impossible.
Where it gets really scary is if you research the reason why synthetic cannabinoid use is so problematic from a healthcare standpoint. These drugs have a bad track record of sending users to the hospital due to accidental poisoning or chemical overdoses, even for first time users. Treatment then becomes an issue because the mixture in the synthetic marijuana is not required to be listed, so doctors and healthcare professionals have no idea what chemicals are in your system, what effects they might have, and if mixing them with different medications could be dangerous.
There is also further risk due to the fact that some studies have claimed that certain strains of the drug are addictive—as opposed to regular marijuana, which is not.
Currently, synthetic marijuana is not illegal in Canada, but it is a Schedule II substance, meaning that it is controlled and can only be sold by a licensed pharmacist. This is most likely to change in the near future, and many suspect that a full ban is imminent.