Countless studies on marijuana have found it to be safer and healthier than alcohol and cigarettes but this is not the case with synthetic pot. Fake weed or synthetic pot has become a popular choice of drug amongst many teens today and the effects of this substance can be catastrophic. Herbs that are sprayed with chemical concoctions designed to produce a similar high as THC have been steadily growing on the market. They’re usually described as natural and safe or marked with warnings stating that they are “not fit for human consumption.” Hundreds of brands now exist, often referred to as Spice and K2, containing chemicals that are meant to be similar to marijuana but often come with harsh side effects.
Synthetic Marijuana Side Effects
According to poison center reports, side effects of synthetic marijuana have included rapid pulse, lethargy, nausea, vomiting, agitation, chest pain, hallucinations, delusions, confusion and dizziness. In severe cases, it has produced seizures, permanent cardiovascular damage, liver damage, stroke, psychosis, paranoia, aggression, anxiety attacks, dependence and death through overdose, suicide or an extreme negative reaction. These reactions are disturbing in and of themselves but it seems that even without such obvious reactions, the synthetic pot is affecting the behavior of users in dangerous and negative ways.
Risks Associated with Synthetic Pot
Synthetic pot is mainly popular with teens and young adults. A study conducted by lead researcher and health scientist Heather Clayton at the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health surveyed over 15,000 students about substance use, violence, mental health, sexual behavior and injury. The research found that approximately 1 in 10 students used synthetic pot, and those who did were much more likely to experience risky sexual behavior, injury and violence. Users were more likely to carry weapons, engage in high risk sexual activity, experience violence and depression. Users were also more prone to being injured, getting into a physical fight or being the victim of sexual violence than the students that only used marijuana.
“The findings indicate that students who report using synthetic marijuana are possibly on a very concerning health trajectory, which is particularly serious given that synthetic marijuana use is relatively common among adolescents,” says Clayton.
Synthetic Weed as a Gateway Drug
The students who used synthetic pot were also more likely to use marijuana. Researchers suggested that it’s possible that these students were more likely to engage in high risk activity to begin with and drug education is an essential aspect of teen schooling.
Synthetic pot is listed as a Schedule I drug and completely illegal on federal level but there are easy ways around making it available to youth. Labeling it “not fit for human consumption” is one way around the issue. Synthetic pot is cheap, very easy to get and hard to detect. It makes it the perfect substance for thrill seeking teens to seek out and try. To compound this, more and more varieties of synthetic pot keep turning up. The best advice for parents seems to be to stay aware of their teens’ behavior. Pay attention to changes in behavior, mood swings and violent tendencies.