Synthetic Hallucinating Designer Drugs are Not Synthetic Marijuana

A lake in Kananaskis to relax and unwind. Better than smoking weed.
A lake in Kananaskis to relax and unwind. Better than smoking weed.

Naturally growing cannabis (marijuana) is a popular psychoactive plant that is often used recreationally. Use of marijuana is in the news almost every day. Not to mention the recent death of a very accomplished actor. Cannabis is also unique in that it contains a psychoactive substance, THC. In some jurisdictions, it is legal to use medical cannabis to treat pain, insomnia, and stimulate appetite.

Then there is “synthetic” cannabis, a psychoactive designer drug created by spraying natural herbs with synthetic chemicals that, when consumed, produce psychoactive effects similar to the effects of cannabis. According to Wikipedia, synthetic cannabis are often known by the brand names K2 and Spice. “Synthetic” is considered a misnomer, because the ingredients contained in these products are mimics, not copies.

An article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (Five things to know about synthetic cannabinoids, February 18, 2014) says, “Synthetic cannabinoids are not synthetic marijuana.” They are a large family of chemically unrelated compounds functionally similar to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active component of Cannabis sativa. It is important to remember, synthetic cannabinoids are NOT derived from cannabis.

The article says the use of synthetic cannabinoids is increasing, quoting statistics from the American Association of Poison Control Centers. The typical users are adolescent males and young men in their early to mid-20s, with the most commonly stated reasons for use being curiosity, relaxation and attaining the desired effects of THC while avoiding toxicological detection. Synthetic cannabinoids cannot be legally sold in Canada.

Use of synthetic cannabinoid can cause psychosis, agitation, seizures, acute kidney injury, low potassium level, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, heart attack and death. Clinical diagnosis of synthetic cannabinoids overdose is difficult to make in a patient presenting with acute psychosis unless there is a high index of suspicion.

There is no specific antidote.

So, it boils down to the same old adage, “Prevention is better than cure.” There are so many wonderful things to do in life that one wonders what drives people to drugs, smoking and drinking. I guess we are all not made of the same outlook in life. People in the same family, carrying similar genes, sometimes end up in different directions. There are so many genetic and environmental factors over which we have no control. That does not mean we should not try and be healthy and make the best of what we have been given and improve on it.

You can be what you want to be. Keep smiling. Talk to you again soon.

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