In a telling condemnation of Frankenstein’s monster that he himself played a role in conjuring up, chemist John W. Huffman PhD compared using synthetic marijuana to Russian Roulette, with disaster being the inevitable result.

synthetic marijuanaOne of the chemists who originally formulated synthetic marijuana for research, Huffman has reportedly expressed astonishment at why anyone would want to even try synthetic marijuana. Because of its extremely potent and potentially toxic effects, Huffman has even supposedly referred to synthetic marijuana joy-trippers as “idiots.”

Harsh or not, Huffman’s assessment is based on a thorough knowledge of the drug. A designer drug formulated to mimic the effects of marijuana, synthetic marijuana was readily available in the United States from 2008 to 2012, when it was finally banned due to widespread documented reports of its ill-effects.

What is synthetic marijuana?

synthetic marijuanaWhat is synthetic marijuana exactly? And why should you stay clear of it? Synthetic marijuana is known by many names including K-2, spice, blaze, moon rock, Yucatan Fire, fake weed, and more. The drug is also often named with a “JWH” prefix (Huffman’s initials) along with varying numerical suffixes. It can be used in pretty much all the ways by which marijuana is used, including smoking, eating, and vaporizing.

Synthetic marijuana most commonly comes in the form of buds or leafy material, which look pretty much like marijuana. Unlike marijuana however, which contains the primary active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the base matter of synthetic marijuana provides little to no psychoactive effect, with most of the effects provided by chemicals that are sprayed on the herbal material.

What makes synthetic marijuana so dangerous is how these chemicals affect the brain. Like THC, the ingredients in synthetic marijuana bind to the CB1 receptors in the human brain. However, these ingredients do so in a much more efficient fashion than THC, resulting in more powerful effects on the CB1 receptors. This brings about more powerful effects, which occur much more quickly.

The drug itself is much more potent than THC, with estimates placing its potency at anywhere from one to one hundred times more. Using synthetic marijuana in amounts similar to marijuana therefore often proves catastrophic.

Effects similar to cannabis

spice synthetic marijuanaIn relatively small amounts, synthetic marijuana provides effects that are slightly similar to those provided by marijuana, although many users report more pronounced and more commonly occurring anxiety and paranoia, both of which are recognized effects of marijuana. However, synthetic marijuana can produce much more alarming and potentially more harmful effects than actual pot.

The range of symptoms produced by synthetic marijuana is wide and varied, with many users having reported severe agitation and anxiety, along with hallucinations that are decidedly more unpleasant than those produced by THC. Users of synthetic marijuana may also experience nausea, vomiting, tremors, seizure, and chest pains. In more extreme cases, the drug can even cause a host of cardiac system-related issues such as strokes or heart attacks, organ damage (particularly to the kidney), brain damage, and even death.

Needless to say, the unpredictability and the harmful and potentially lethal effects of synthetic marijuana make it a much more risky choice than marijuana. Given the possibly disastrous effects of the drug even in small doses, you would be well-advised to avoid it entirely.

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