Synthetic Marijuana vs Traditional Cannabis

marijuanaEmergency departments across the country have seen a steady rise in synthetic drug related cases, commonly involving what are known as synthetic cannabis. While the name may cause people to think of marijuana, the effects of synthetic cannabinoids are both unpredictable and dangerous. The side effects associated with the use of such compounds, sold under the name “K2” or “Spice” are frightening to say the least. That being said, it begs the question, why would people use substances with side effects which cannot be anticipated?

Synthetic marijuana, unlike traditional cannabis in most states, teeters on the line of legality. Meaning, it is easy to buy and use synthetic drugs because chemists are constantly altering the formula to stay ahead of government bans. What’s more, the chemicals found in synthetic cannabis can’t be detected by most standard drug tests, which is appealing to young people and those working in professions that drug test randomly. When you add that together with how inexpensive synthetic drugs are, it is easy to see why some people would be drawn to those forms of drugs.


Synthetic marijuana, and its effect on the human body, is far from understood by scientists. Ironically, researchers developed synthetic cannabinoids (SCB) in order to better understand the effect of the main psychoactive ingredient (THC) found in traditional cannabis on receptors in the brain, Cell Press reports. Researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) point out that while SCBs activate the same brain receptors as THC, SCBs are not only different from marijuana—they are chemically distinct from one another. In a Review published in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, the researchers write of synthetic marijuana:

“SCBs are falsely marketed as safe marijuana substitutes. Instead, SCBs are a highly structural diverse group of compounds, easily synthesized, which produce very dangerous adverse effects occurring by, as of yet, unknown mechanisms. Therefore, available evidence indicates that K2/Spice products are clearly not safe marijuana alternatives.”

Paul L. Prather, a cellular and molecular pharmacologist at UAMS and his colleagues point out that SCBs have been associated with twenty deaths, according to the report. Clinical studies have identified both acute and long-term adverse effects of SCB, such as:

  • Seizures
  • Convulsions
  • Kidney Injury
  • Cardiotoxicity
  • Strokes
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis

Synthetic Marijuana Addiction

Those who use synthetic cannabis regularly are at risk of developing a tolerance and dependence on the drugs. Those who attempt to quit can experience withdrawal. If you or a loved one has been abusing synthetic drugs, please contact Synergy Group Services. Synthetic cannabinoids are extremely dangerous, given the fact that you have no idea what kind of side effects to expect. The next time could land you in the hospital, or worse.

Marijuana Use Prevention Efforts

marijuanaMarijuana is a popular drug in the United States, indicative by the fact that it is the most used illicit narcotic in this country. As of late, discussions about drugs have been geared towards prescription opioids and heroin—in light of the ongoing epidemic. Yet, it is worth keeping in mind that while marijuana is a far cry from opioids, it is still a drug that can have negative effects on one’s health and lead to addiction. The demographic of greatest concern is young people, especially adolescents.

In the science community, it is widely held that teenage cannabis use can have a serious impact on the brain. This is due to the fact that the brain of adolescents is still developing. While preventing teens from using cannabis is a top concern, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that in the last year, marijuana was used by:

  • Roughly 6.5 Percent of Eighth-Graders
  • 14.8 percent of 10th-Graders
  • 21.3 Percent of 12th-Graders

NIDA’s findings indicate that cannabis prevention measures need to start much earlier. But when? A team of researchers from the University of Florida (UF) took it upon themselves to pinpoint when teens are most like to begin using cannabis, MNT reports. Their findings could increase the success of preventative measures in the future. The research was published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

The findings of the study, led by Dr. Xinguang Chen, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at UF, showed that adolescents are at risk of initiating cannabis use by the age of 11, according to the article. The risk of using cannabis peaks at the age of 16. The researchers determined those ages by looking at data from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The survey involved 26,659 adolescents and young adults—ages 12 to 21.

“Our findings demonstrate the need to start drug education much earlier, in the fourth or fifth grade,” said Dr. Xinguang Chen. “This gives us an opportunity to make a preemptive strike before they actually start using marijuana.”

At Synergy Group Services, we specialize in treating addiction, we can help you or a loved one break the cycle of addiction and give you the tools necessary for sustaining long term abstinence from all mind altering substances.

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