Synthetic marijuana, also known as Spice or K2, is composed of a family of over 700 man-made research chemicals that act on the same cell receptors in the brain as THC, the naturally occurring chemical found in natural marijuana. However, these chemicals and THC are nothing alike. Manufacturers of spice spray the chemicals onto dried plant matter, bag it, and sell it to consumers who then smoke it in a pipe, joint, or the newest trend, vaping the chemicals.

Synthetic cannabinoids came onto the recreational drug market around 2004. In 2013, the U.S. banned synthetic marijuana, and made its distribution a federal crime. However, manufacturers have simply tweaked its chemical makeup to get around the law, and continue sales. Currently, some states are working to ban all forms of the drug, and keep the toxic chemicals out of naive hands.

There are hundreds of names for synthetic marijuana, such as Scooby Snax or Cowboy Kush, complete with cutesy images like cartoons that are used to market the chemicals to a much younger crowd. In addition to this type of marketing, the drug is also sold under the guise of potpourri, room deodorizer, or incense, with the warning label, “Not for Human Consumption” to prevent liability.

Synthetic marijuana is highly addictive, toxic, and can be deadly. Since the name is associated with natural marijuana, users consider it safe, but it’s not. It has zero relation to marijuana, and the false correlation between the two is frightening. The reported effects of spice vary, and are usually negative. Most users are young, naive, and ignorant to the side effects, and some have died following their first use of the drug. Common side effects include:

  • Intense cravings
  • Vomiting
  • Psychotic episodes and hallucinations
  • Extreme agitation
  • Seizure
  • Increased heart rate, cardiac arrest, and heart damage


When used longer-term, many serious withdrawal symptoms can occur such as:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Extreme sweating
  • Kidney failure or damage
  • Insomnia
  • Psychotic thoughts
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Intense cravings
  • Depression

Detox can take a week or more, and the side effects of spice can last much longer. Like others in recovery from addictive drugs, ex-synthetic marijuana addicts may experience cravings for the drug, years after stopping. Relapse is also fairly common. Though this drug is very addictive, recovery is possible. Treatment for synthetic marijuana will provide a safe environment to come off the drug, and will teach individuals the life skills and coping methods they need to live their lives free of addiction.

New Vista Behavioral Health is committed to helping you on your road to long term recovery. Begin our partnership today by calling 888-316-3665.

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