Synthetic Spice Sold in Vape Cartridges

Man under drug effects
Photo by Maor_Winetrob/

While the FDA has approved CBD to treat seizures in those struggling with certain medical conditions, some products sold as CBD are marketed with unproven medical claims. For instance, that it can cure cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric disorders, and diabetes.

To make matters worse, knockoff CBD cartridges are now being sold, some of them containing spice or K2. These synthetic drugs have dangerous effects.

While often called synthetic marijuana, these drugs can cause extreme effects that are very far from marijuana in results. Spice has some terrifying side effects. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the drug can cause psychotic episodes, including extreme anxiety, vivid hallucinations, confusion, and paranoia, resulting in violent behavior and suicidal thoughts.

As terrifying as these symptoms sound, those are not the worst effects of K2. In an overdose, the drug can cause elevated blood pressure, reduced blood supply to the heart, kidney damage, and seizures. There have also been cases where fentanyl was mixed into the Spice causing in some cases a fatal overdose.

Products are now being sold as CBD which contains no actual CBD and contains instead K2 or, worse, fentanyl. In a recent investigation done across all 50 states, 350 samples were collected by law enforcement. From the samples collected, 128 of them contained psychoactive chemicals (chemicals that affect the mind). Also, in almost every sample from the southern US, the chemical that was found was spice. While this does not represent all companies producing CBD products, there is a large number of businesses doing this in an attempt to make fast money by substituting cheap, illegal chemicals in place of CBD. Counterfeit edibles accounted for 36 of the cases, and the rest were vape products.

The most recent case of the tragedy caused by fake CBD products is Jay Jenkins’s case in Lexington, SC. He was given a vape by his friend containing what Jay thought was CBD. His friend said it would calm Jay down. Unfortunately, the vape product was found to contain spice. After he took two puffs, he ended up in a coma. The vape he had smoked was purchased at a 7-Eleven sold under YOLO’s brand name, an acronym for “You Only Live Once”. After the first hit, Jay felt hazy. After the second hit, he experienced intense hallucinations before realizing he could not move and his friend quickly drove him to the hospital.

He came out of the coma the next day and was released. When the product was analyzed, it was a chemical that was banned in Europe for causing 11 deaths and also sickened 33 people in Utah.

So, you might be wondering what became of the company YOLO and if they were shut down. Unfortunately, the person eventually found responsible for its creation was never persecuted. When the New York Post reached out to them for comment, YOLO’s response was a text referring the call to their attorney with no other information.

A reporter followed up at the store in which the YOLO had been purchased. The product was no longer for sale; however, when they asked the cashier about the product, this is what they reported happening.

“These are better. These are the owner’s. This is our top seller,” she said, referring to them as 7 to 11 CBD. “These here, you can only get here.”

Testing showed that all three contained synthetic marijuana.

This is just one of the hundreds of cases where synthetics were sold as CBD and caused those using it to get ill. This has been an ongoing problem with a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017 stating that 70% of CBD products tested during the study were mislabeled.

While government organizations have been working on removing these dangerous products, it is hard to prevent them from reaching the shelves. With so many new products coming in, as the industry continues to explode, governing bodies are having trouble keeping up. In addition to this, the companies, suppliers, and manufacturers work hard to make sure if they are caught, it is nearly impossible to be traced back to those who are producing it.

Please be careful, and if you or one of your loved ones has been struggling with addiction, please call us today for a free assessment.




Aaron has been writing drug education articles and documenting the success of the Narconon program for over two years.