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Synthetic Marijuana - A Rose By Any Other Name Would Be Just As Deadly
By now you've heard of synthetic marijuana. K2 and Spice are the names most often associated with it, but vendors hawk their wares under a plethora of other names. Happy Hour, Mr. Smiley, Zombie Butter, Black Widow, Dead & Berried, Cherry High, and Mayhem are just a few of the other names emblazoned on the small plastic containers and baggies used to package it, all with the statement "not for human consumption" on it somewhere to circumvent the illegality of the product. Even if you know what name it goes by, do you know what goes into it?
Synthetic marijuana is a mixture of generally harmless herbs, the garden variety, coated with a wide variety of different chemicals to produce certain mental and physiological effects that mimic the effects of marijuana and other illegal substances (cocaine and LSD, for example). The maufacturers of fake weed are not required to put the ingredients on the packaging because the substances are not regulated or approved by any federal agency...and even if they were inclined to list the ingredients, they get around that by claiming it's a "proprietary blend" and leave it at that.
What's it really made of? Your guess would be as good as mine. Labels such as JWH-018 and HU-210 are used, but what are those, really? One study showed that some of the alleged ingredients in synthetic marijuana, including the herbs used as the base, weren't even contained in the actual product. The man who discovered JWH-018 (the most-often used primary chemical in synthetic marijuana), a professor at Clemson University, has stated that the effects of the chemical on humans have not been studied or tested, nor has the potential for toxicity, and therefore the substance should not be consumed.
Several sellers of the variously-named "herbal incense" products dutifully remove the banned products as needed, but aren't worried about losing business. When asked about the possible effects of the DEA bans on synthetic marijuana and the chemicals used to make it, they almost always respond by saying the same thing, "It's okay...the makers will just change around a few chemicals and it'll be back on the shelves by the end of the week."
Basically, consuming synthetic marijuana is like playing Russian roulette...you might as well dig around in the chemical cabinet of your home blindfolded, mix a few here and there in various amounts, and chug it down. You'll get the same "high" feeling and a "head change," and if you're lucky, you won't end up hospitalized or dead. If you're lucky, you won't have long-term effects beseiging your body as a result of ingesting an unknown collection of unstudied chemicals.
Speaking of dead...yes, people have died from ingesting synthetic marijuana. (No one has ever died from ingesting real marijuana, however...so that in itself lets you know the two substances are drastically different in the way they effect the human body.)
October 2011: A 13-year old boy in Pennsylvania had to have a double lung transplant as a result of extensive damage to his lungs after ingesting synthetic marijuana, and he recently died as a result of infection (which would not have happened had he not needed the transplant due to the effects of synthetic marijuana).
October 2011: An Anderson University (SC) basketball player died after ingesting synthetic marijuana.
September 2011: A 22-year old Minnesota man committed suicide while "high" on synthetic marijuana; family and friends said he had no suicidal tendencies at all and his death was a result of anxiety and mood shifts caused by ingestion of the substance.
August 2011: A 19-year old Illinois man was "high" on synthetic marijuana and got into a fatal vehicle accident (he died).
Spring 2011: A Minnesota resident died from ingesting synthetic marijuana.
There are thousands of 911 calls and trips to the emergency room that have been recorded across the country in the past year as a result of complications from ingesting this toxic blend of chemicals. Your favorite search engine will give you plenty of results to read. And aside from the health dangers associated with ingestion, synthetic marijuana is also highly addictive...almost more so than more potent drugs.
If you know someone who uses synthetic marijuana, urge them to quit.