What is Spice?

Synthetic marijuana has been around for almost a decade, however very few people know exactly what it is. The drug first appeared in 2008 and remained legal up till 2012 when it was nationally banned. During that time, the popular belief was that the drug was safe and did not deserve to be banned. This was quickly disproved when a string of seizures and hospital visits where attributed to the drug’s use.

Originally named K2 after its chemical make up, synthetic marijuana has been re-released several times with different chemical compositions and names. Manufacturers of the drug are continually changing the chemicals used to make the drug in an attempt at getting around the ban. The changing chemical composition makes the effects of this drug vary widely.

Where did K2 come from:

The drug was originally created in the 1990’s by the chemist John W. Huffman of Clemson University, who was studying cannabinoid receptors. To this day, he is not sure how it became used by the public to get high.

“Apparently somebody picked it up, I think in Europe, on the idea of doping this incense mixture with the compound and smoking it,” Huffman told LiveScience. “You can get very high on it. It’s about 10 times more active than THC,” the active ingredient in marijuana.

In the study, the drug originally showed symptoms very similar to marijuana, causing sleepiness, reduced blood pressure, and hallucinations at high dosages. The drug is now being illegally manufactured and can be likened to playing a game of druggy Russian roulette. The synthetic marijuana being produced now has much different symptoms.

“The symptoms, such as fast heart beat, dangerously elevated blood pressure, pale skin and vomiting suggest that K2 is affecting the cardiovascular system of users. It also is believed to affect the central nervous system, causing severe, potentially life-threatening hallucinations and, in some cases, seizures.”

This is alarming considering one in 20 high school students used the drugs in 2014 and about one in 30 adults age 19 to 28 used them in 2013 according to the most recent study.

It is for this reason that synthetic marijuana has recently received much more attention from law enforcement as well as state legislation. In light of these statistics, parents especially should be aware of the signs of use for this drug.

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