What Is Synthetic Marijuana and Why Is It So Dangerous?


Colorado Substance Abuse Evaluations

When trying to wrap your head around the world of drugs, it is essential to have information on which drug you are dealing with and how a substance is made. Thinking that synthetic marijuana is analogous to the natural version is naive, and this misconception can put the user in danger.

What Exactly Is Synthetic Marijuana?

The synthetic version of weed is a man-made version of the chemical THC that mimics the mind-altering effects. However, its chemical makeup and properties are not the same, and while some would label these differences worthy of making it a designer drug, in reality, it is much more potent than its parent drug. The chemical starts as a powder dissolved in a solvent like acetone. Once manufacturing is complete, it can be consumed in different ways. It can be sprayed on a plant and smoked like a normal blunt, go into a cartridge for e-cigarettes, or be vaporized.

Why Would My Kid Go With Synthetic Over Organic?

The biggest reason–it’s a cheap way to get really high really quick. The effect blows the organic stuff out of the water, and as tolerance builds, they will have to rely on it exclusively. Moreover, trying to control its legality is like playing whack-a-mole. There is always a new strain, new ingredients, new packaging, and new ways to disguise it as something not meant for consumption. It is even marketed as potpourri, incense, and even tea so it can be sold in the open. It is easy to get online; a curious minor can easily purchase it with a ‘borrowed’ credit card and an internet connection. Searches that should prompt further investigation include the following street names:

  • K-2
  • Spice
  • Bliss
  • Black Mamba
  • Skunk
  • Bombay Blue

What Makes Synthetic Marijuana Dangerous?

There are two sources of danger regarding synthetic marijuana: the chemical itself and how it’s made. The chemical THC substitute does not bind to cell receptors in the same way as the organic counterpart. The bond is stronger, leading to a more intense high than a user might be accustomed to. Not only is there the potential for a violent physical reaction that includes vomiting, seizures, kidney damage, and an elevated heart rate, but it can lead to psychological episodes.

Thanks to the potent nature of the chemical, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and violent behavior are all potential risks. Depending on the circumstances of these behaviors, a user can wind up in the hospital or jail. Unfortunately, an unwitting teen might just assume that they will respond the same way as they have with the organic version or might not know to ask if they are getting a synthetic version.

Just the nature of how synthetic marijuana is manufactured makes it a health hazard, even without the direct effects of the drug. It is made with a harsh solvent which, when smoked, will be vaporized directly into the lungs, leading to damage over time. The user doesn’t know what kind of plant the chemical is being sprayed on. For all they know, there are toxic properties inherited in the plant itself—on top of the toxins created by smoking—that they are inhaling.

Where Can I Get Help?

Whether the source of your distress is synthetic marijuana or any other issue, we at Colorado Addictions Consulting are here to help! If you or your child is struggling, our staff is waiting to be of service. Schedule an evaluation today to get answers and give your child the specialized care they need. Call 720-379-6590.