Spice, also known as “K2” and many other names, is a stronger and riskier synthetic version of marijuana. It is usually obtained online, in gas stations or smoke shops under the label of herbal smoking blends, incense or potpourri.
The drug content is a highly potent liquid that is often sprayed onto plant matter to simulate real marijuana, but causes a high that is many times more intense. Due to its increased strength and inconsistent manufacturing, the drug is a lethal risk and holds a very strong potential for abuse and addiction.
Many marijuana users are drawn into K2 abuse because:
- It’s cheaper
- Longer lasting
- It doesn’t show up on standard drug tests, making it more salient to parolees, soldiers or athletes who are regularly tested
- Similar elevated mood and relaxation effects as marijuana
The unpredictable dangers associated with the synthetic marijuana compounds led the Drug Enforcement Agency to brand it a “designer drug,” placing its active ingredients on the controlled substances list in recent years.
Symptoms of Spice/K2 Abuse
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, symptoms of K2 abuse include:
- Accelerated breathing
- Altered perception of time and space
- Elevated heartbeat and blood pressure
- Emotional detachment
- Uncontrollable laughter
- Impaired judgment
- Mood swings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Profound anxiety and paranoia
- Profuse sweating
- Red eyes
- Reduced motivation
- Short-term memory loss
Side Effects of K2/Spice
A staggering number of emergency room calls alone speak volumes about the true dangers and toxicity of the drug. Health dangers include:
- Acute kidney failure
- Toxic Hepatitis
- Reduced blood flow to the heart
- Suicidal thoughts
- Violent behavior
- Heart attack
Because of the extreme potency of the spice synthetic compounds, including the various fillers they are adulterated with, the risks of spice abuse are exponentially greater than those posed by marijuana alone.
Spice/K2 Inside the Body
Due to its relative newness and lack of federal funding for research, much is still unknown about the Spice/K2 methods in which spice interacts with the brain.
What we do know is that synthetic marijuana binds as much as 1,000 times more powerfully to brain receptors. The drug’s metabolites linger longer than cannabis, making all effects durate.
Naturally-grown cannabis contains cannabidiol. A study conducted by researchers from the University of Sao Paulo and Kings College, London, determined that cannabidiol interrupts the psychotic-like symptoms marijuana can sometimes produce; synthetic marijuana lacks this protective agent.