Last updated: November 27, 2023
Research by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reveals that marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug with 22 million having used it in the past month. Marijuana use rose increased from 1.5% to 2.9% of the US population the past one year, according to the National Institutes of Health.
In 2013, 2.4 million people aged 12 and above in the US had used marijuana for the first time the last 12 months per the data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).That shows there are an approximate 6,000 new users each day. Besides, the same data shows that the number of daily or almost daily marijuana users increased from 5.1 million (2005-’07) to 8.1 million users in 2013.
The rise of synthetic cannabinoids
Synthetic marijuana takes the second place as the most used illegal drug among the high school seniors, according to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse. Given that most states have placed a ban on marijuana use, most people have turned to the synthetic marijuana. Its popularity, too, is pegged on the fact that the chemicals used in making it are hard to detect during the marijuana drug tests.
￼What is synthetic marijuana?
Synthetic marijuana was first created by scientists who wanted to study cannabinoid receptor system in the human brain and the immune system. However, they faced real hurdles in getting real cannabis and had to use synthetic compounds to make something resembling the natural marijuana.
Distinction between synthetic marijuana and natural marijuana
Natural marijuana is a plant cultivated or that grows naturally in the wild. Usually, it’s cultivated for medicinal use and recreational purposes. Synthetic marijuana is made from chemical compounds relatives to the substances in the natural marijuana but not plant-based. As such, synthetic cannabis or cannabinoids constitutes lab chemical compounds unknown to those who abuse it outside the lab settings.
Natural marijuana is of the same quality and similar potency and side effects. However, synthetic pot is made from multiple labs by different people and with varied chemicals. As such, no two batches will ever be of the same quality due to the difference in mixtures. It’s even possible to have the product from the same facility, under one brand name having varied quality. Synthetic marijuana can have a potency 100 times or higher compared to TCH.
Synthetic Marijuana is potent compared to regular marijuana. Users believe it gives better and long-lasting ‘high.’ However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse warns that the synthetic cannabinoids affect the brain more than the natural marijuana. In most cases, the effects are highly unpredictable and severe.
Synthetic marijuana is not easily detectable because synthetic cannabinoids rarely trigger a positive result during a marijuana test while natural marijuana will be easy to detect. The standard drug test is designed to detect THC founding natural marijuana.
Is synthetic marijuana legal?
In the US, a few states have passed bills banning the sale of synthetic marijuana. Besides, in 2011, the DEA instituted emergency procedures that would schedule, though temporarily, a couple of the compounds in the synthetic cannabinoid products.
Also, different states now have put in administrative measures, regulations for product labeling and branding and even spelled out penalties. Additionally, states have enacted the criminal prosecution strategies and penalties for those who avoid promoting their products as ‘synthetic’ but advertise them as ‘not fit for human consumption.’
Shocking enough, despite the crackdown on the illegal synthetic cannabinoids, there are hundreds of brand names, K2 and Spice being the most common. Moreover, they’re marketed as a legal and safe alternative to the regular marijuana. However, they remain illegal to produce, buy or use.
Side effects of synthetic marijuana
While some users report the same adverse effects of natural marijuana such as anxiety, panic, and hallucinations, synthetic marijuana can have life-threatening aftereffects. They include;
- Rapid heart rate
- Kidney damage
- Violent and erratic behavior
- Suicidal thoughts
Are synthetic cannabinoids addictive?
While natural marijuana is addictive, synthetic cannabinoids have more potency. Besides, the chemical compounds used can be highly toxic. Any attempt at stopping gets the users to experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, depression, and aggressiveness.
Can you get fired for recreational marijuana use?
While a couple of states have allowed the recreational use of marijuana, the laws do not expressly protect employees from getting fired for legal and off-duty use. Most state laws clearly state the legalization does not intend to go contrary to the employer’s zero tolerance for drug abuse. As such, if you test positive for natural or synthetic marijuana, you can still lose your job in a state where marijuana is legal.
There’s now plenty of information regarding natural marijuana, and synthetic cannabinoids and the dangers associated have become clear. As such, it a high time you stopped the bad behavior altogether.