K2, Spice and Weed: Understanding Synthetic Marijuana
Synthetic marijuana goes by a variety of names: K2, spice and fake weed are just a few of the most popular terms. While K2 may be marketed as a safe and legal alternative to pot, this synthetic drug is far more dangerous and can even be deadly.
Despite federal attempts to ban K2 from gas stations and other store shelves, the drug remains readily available. State legislators are trying to crack down on this growing drug problem; in fact, New Hampshire governor Maggie Hassan declared a public health emergency in 2014 in response to a rash of overdoses in the state.
What is K2?
K2 is usually composed of a mixture of herbs and shredded plants sprayed with a synthetic compound that mimics the effects of marijuana. Despite its reputation, there’s nothing natural about this drug. The herbs and plants themselves contain no psychoactive components, and the active ingredients of K2 are all synthetic compounds.
K2 is particularly popular among teenagers and young adults. A survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse reveals that the substance was second only to traditional marijuana in a list of most frequently-used illicit drugs. The chemicals used in K2 are not easily detectable in most drug tests, which also contributes to the popularity of the drug.
A Dangerous Drug
Like pot, synthetic cannabis is usually smoked in a joint. It can also be baked into foods or brewed into a tea. K2 normally produces a high that resembles the effects of normal marijuana: altered perception, relaxation and enhanced mood.
Due to the synthetic compounds present in the drug, the effects of K2 can be far stronger than natural marijuana, and many users report severe anxiety and other psychotic effects. Quality control is virtually nonexistent in the production of K2, so the type and potency of the chemicals used in K2 varies widely.
The number of emergency room visits related to K2 use has soared in recent years. Users who are taken to emergency rooms and Poison Control centers report the following symptoms:
- Rapid heart rate
The drug can elevate a user’s blood pressure and cut off blood supply to the heart. In some cases, K2 abuse has been linked with heart attacks.
Addiction Treatment for K2 Addiction
It’s clear that K2 is far from being a safe alternative to marijuana; in fact, it’s a significantly more dangerous drug. Not only do K2 abusers run the risk of overdose or frightening reactions, but they may also get addicted to the substance. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that regular users of K2 “may experience withdrawal and addiction symptoms.”