Though marijuana can be surprisingly addictive on its own, there’s a dangerous substitute for the substance that comes with even greater risk. Synthetic marijuana, which is also sometimes called nicknames like “mojo,” “spice,” “K2,” “black mamba,” or “crazy clown,” is a mixture of herbs that have been sprayed with synthetic psychoactive chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana. 

The drug acts on the brain’s cannabinoid system, the same one that is affected by marijuana, which means that it can produce similar experiences of relaxation, euphoria, and altered perception that cannabis does despite the fact that it is cheaper to produce and use. 

But this low price comes at a high cost. While overdose or deaths linked to actual marijuana are rare, several fatalities and a significant amount of ER visits have been linked to use of synthetic marijuana. For example, a batch of synthetic marijuana that was later found to contain rat poison killed three people and sickened over 100. Other deaths have been linked to synthetic marijuana that has been cut with dangerous opioids like fentanyl. Synthetic marijuana can cause symptoms ranging from those that are merely unpleasant:

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Profuse sweating

To incredibly disorienting:

  • Aggression
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia

To acutely life threatening:

  • Seizures
  • Irregular heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Kidney failure
  • Seizures

Thus, if someone who has been consuming synthetic marijuana appears to be dangerously physically or psychologically unwell, you should call emergency services immediately.

While some forms of synthetic marijuana have now been banned due to these dangerous side effects, the fact that makers of the product are constantly coming up with new chemicals with which to produce it means that the scary thing is that synthetic marijuana is not only technically legal but is sold publicly in places like gas stations and drug paraphernalia shops.

This helps add to the misconception that this synthetic marijuana is less dangerous and less strong than marijuana proper when in fact the opposite is true for both. Synthetic marijuana can be up to fifteen times more potent than natural cannabis, which means that it is also more addictive. 

Thus, it can cause withdrawal symptoms, which tend to be similar to withdrawal symptoms caused by marijuana but potentially more intense. These can include nausea, vomiting, and flu-like symptoms as well as psychological effects like boredom, irritability, insomnia, cravings, depression, restlessness, changes in sleep patterns, changes in eating patterns, and anxiety.

Synthetic marijuana typically looks similar to cannabis, and can be smoked, ingested, or used to make teas. It also sometimes sold in liquid form for use in e-cigarettes and is often sold in deceptive, invitingly bright colored packaging. It may also get around restrictions on products intended to be ingested by carrying a small print label describing it as incense or “not for human consumption” while other aspects of the packaging assert otherwise.

Unfortunately, the cheap price of synthetic marijuana, as well as the fact that it is harder to detect in drug screenings and technically legal, have caused it to become popular among certain demographics, such as young adults, military personnel, and the incarcerated. 

While marijuana itself does have some legitimate medical uses and can be used safely in moderation by some people in places where it is legal, synthetic marijuana is not a drug that you ever want to take a chance with.  And if you are currently struggling with addiction to or withdrawal from “mojo” or any other legal or illegal drug, or are concerned about someone who is, feel free to contact our helpline anytime at (833) 489-5577. 

Sources: 

scientificamerican.com/article/the-spice-of-death-the-science-behind-tainted-synthetic-marijuana/

archives.drugabuse.gov/trends-statistics/synthetic-marijuana-lands-thousands-young-people-in-er-especially-young-males

wusa9.com/article/news/crime/marijuana-overdoses-northern-virginia-caused-by-laced-product/65-9059dea1-9069-4e10-a32f-e65cb9778142

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