Natural marijuana gains its mind-altering effects from a chemical known as THC.
Synthetic marijuana, on the other hand, is coated with synthetic cannabinoids – a family of over 700 research chemicals.
In other words, synthetic marijuana / K2 / Spice is completely different than natural marijuana.
In 2008, the scientific and law enforcement communities began to study what was actually contained in synthetic cannabis mixtures. What they found was alarming.
Analysis showed that rather than being a simple mixture of harmless herbs, such as canavalia maritima, leonotis leonurus, zornia latifolia and others, the product had in fact been sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids.
These are not the “All Natural” ingredients listed on their packaging and on the sellers’ web sites. These chemicals are similar to natural cannabinoid found in marijuana, THC – tetrahydracannabinol, but affect our brain receptors differently.
Spice and K2 may contain one of many synthetic cannabinoids such as JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, AM-2201 UR-144, XLR-11, AKB4, cannabicyclohexanol and AB-CHMINACA, AB-PINACA or AB-FUBINACA.
Even the prescription drug, phenazapam, has been found in some products.
Synthetic cannabinoids happens to fit into the same receptors that THC latches onto in the brain, so they can have an effect similar to THC.
However, some synthetic cannabinoids are 100X stronger than THC and many operate on other brain receptors, too.
This can cause a number of significant negative side effects including high blood pressure, blurred vision, heart attack, vomiting, seizures, hallucinations, and severe anxiety and paranoia.
Deaths have also been associated with use of the drug.
Synthetic marijuana is not sold as a single brand, nor does it make use of just one ingredient.
There are a number of different manufacturers who use the same basic approach, but produce very different chemicals.
How Is Synthetic Marijuana Made?
It wasn’t long after the use of Spice & K2 became available that people started experiencing and reporting adverse side effects, including serious psychosis.
Synthetic cannabinoids are produced as an oil or a crystalline powder that can easily be sprayed on plant material or any other low cost garbage the manufacturers can get away with to create a product that can be smoked and provide some kind of high.
Most spice manufacturers don’t follow high manufacturing standards. Many of the chemicals are produced in cheap basement labs in China or Russia.
Because of the wide variety of chemicals involved and the sloppy manufacturing methods used to produce them, the health risks of one batch may not be the same as another batch, turning use of the drug into a game of Russian roulette.
Chemical impurities also carry additional, and possibly much greater, risks.
In liquid forms of Spice or K2, the variety of chemicals may be greater. Some suspect that a few brands of liquid Spice may contain traces of synthetic psychedelics such as 2C-P.
Analysis by the German government in 2008 showed that some products contained almost none of the supposedly mild traditional herbs that were advertised as ingredients.