Spotlight on Drugs: Spice
By Cailyn Mclintire, Freelance Writer
In the realm of preventing and treating teenage drug use, knowledge of
what kids are using is an essential tool for both parents and treatment
centers. While most of us are familiar with, and can identify drugs like
marijuana, cocaine, heroin, pain pills, there is a whole world of designer
drugs that most of us have never heard of. Unfortunately, your children
have. Drugs like Molly, bath salts, K2, GHB, ketamine and others are often
developed to avoid both detection, and allow access while legal. They
are , however, very dangerous, and often deadly. this month we will focus
on Spice, a synthetic form of marijuana.
Synthetic marijuana is a mixture of cannibinoids (chemical compounds that
repress neurotransmitter release in the brain) that mimics the effects
of marijuana when smoked. Also known as Spice and K2, synthetic marijuana
was introduced to consumers in 2008 as an "herbal incense."
Because it could be legally purchased in headshops and gas stations, and
because it did not produce a positive test result on most drug screenings,
Spice quickly gained popularity with high school students and other young
adults. In 2011, 11% of high school seniors had used synthetic marijuana
at least once that year, a percentage that comes second only to the number
of students using natural marijuana. According to Thelma McMillen's
Dr. Watson, "It's up to twenty times more potent than marijuana
and has serious deleterious effects."
In 2012, the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act was passed, classifying
five cannabinoids commonly found in synthetic marijuana as Schedule I
substances (a dangerous substance that has no recognized medical use and
that has a high potential for abuse). To circumvent these legal restrictions,
producers of synthetic marijuana substitute different chemicals in their
mixtures. As such, anyone over the age of 18 can still legally purchase
synthetic marijuana in the U.S. To combat this, the Drug Enforcement Administration
continues to monitor the situation and evaluate the need for updating
the list of banned cannabinoids.
Because the substance has been available for a relatively short period
of time, little is known about the long-term effects of synthetic marijuana.
However, many studies have confirmed several potential health hazards
associated with Spice consumption, such as:
- Extreme anxiety
- Rapid heart rate
In some cases, individuals have sought emergency room care for these symptoms.
Even though Spice is technically legal, the product is highly unregulated
and can be twenty times more potent than natural marijuana. It is possible
to develop an addiction to synthetic marijuana, and some users have reported
intense withdrawal symptoms similar to those associated with withdrawal
Synthetic marijuana will not yield a positive result on a generic drug
test, but parents can still look for other indicators if they suspect
their teen is consuming the substance. Synthetic marijuana and natural
marijuana are smoked using similar paraphernalia, such as dry pipes, water
pipes, papers, and blunts.
Because of synthetic marijuana's tenuous legal status and misleading
name, many users are unaware of the substance's dangers. It is important
to inform yourself and your teen.