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Stop Calling it Synthetic Marijuana, Spice Is Nothing Like Weed

Photo By Gracie Malley

Joint Opinions

Stop Calling it Synthetic Marijuana, Spice Is Nothing Like Weed

Although the imitation herb commonly referred to as “Spice” or “K2” is often passed off as “synthetic marijuana,” this controversial street drug actually has very little in common with the cannabis plant. Strangely, claims are often made that this dangerous substance simulates the effects of marijuana, but the last time we checked, cannabis has never killed anyone, nor has it ever forced users into fits of psychotic rage that leads to them decapitating their significant other and gouging out their own eyeballs.

Of course, most sane medical experts understand the declaration over “synthetic marijuana” being in the same ballpark as cannabis is, perhaps, one of the biggest inaccuracies of the past decade. Dr. Malik Burnett, resident physician at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, recently told TheDCist that synthetic marijuana is only referred to as such because it is engineered to mimic the structure of the psychoactive compound in marijuana, THC. However, while chemists are doing their best to copycat this cannabinoid without running a foul with the federal government, Burnett suggests that their gutter science has forced the label “synthetic marijuana” because “it looks like a cannabinoid,” even though “it’s not a cannabinoid at all.”

What makes these compounds dangerous and difficult for the federal government to get a leash on is the fact that these chemicals are constantly changing in order to avoid being buried in the backyard of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Once the DEA outlaws a particular compound used in the production of this drug, some chemist somewhere devises an alternative variation of the chemical that keeps the product legal and on the shelves.

Essentially, people who partake in spice are consuming a laundry list of unstable chemical compounds that have the uncanny ability to toss fragile minds into fits of psychosis and ultra-violence that remain unprecedented outside the realm of Angel Dust. Nothing drives home the sheer insanity of this drug quite like the news that often surfaces immediately after someone goes on a wild-eyed bender with this stuff.

Earlier last week, for example, the nation looked on in absolute horror after reports surfaced about an Arizona man who decapitated his wife and their two dogs before gouging out one of his eyeballs – all after a night of smoking spice. Although the man, 43-year-old Kenneth Wakefield, had a history of mental illness, it became readily apparent while reading the details of this man’s wild night in Phoenix that his bout with K2 had driven him straight over an edge for which he will never return.

Recently, in addition to random acts of Caligula-esque violence, overdoses on these synthetic compounds have begun spiraling out of control to the point where public health officials are now increasingly more perplexed as to how to combat this nasty epidemic. In April, there were reportedly around 1,000 hospitalizations alone stemming from the use of spice. Shockingly, these numbers represent “more than double the total number of cases seen in the first three months of 2015 and nearly four times the total recorded by this time last year,” according to the International Business Times.

Also, the latest statistics from the American Association of Poison Control Centers indicate that calls to Poison Control over spice skyrocketed from 112 in 2009 to over 6,500 in 2011. Even the federal government, which has maintained that cannabis is a dangerous drug with no medicinal value for many decades, wants the public to understand that the spice craze has nothing to do with the cannabis plant. According to Centers for Disease Control, “Synthetic marijuana is a designer drug that does not contain marijuana but rather contains any of a variety of plants sprayed with laboratory-produced chemicals.”

While these synthetic cannabinoids are often mistaken for legally accepted forms of marijuana, these products have been linked to a myriad of health detriments, including psychosis, stroke, seizures and even death — more than enough evidence that these vile synthetics are in no way the same as marijuana.

“This is much closer to meth [methamphetamine] than it is to marijuana,” said Mike Van Dyke, chief of environmental epidemiology and occupational health at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in Denver.

Dr. Andrew Monte published a study last year in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found that people were causing themselves sometimes, irreversible physical and mental damage with the use of spice. Although these products may seem safe because they have managed to slip through the cracks of regulation, “people may not realize how dangerous these drugs can be – up to 1,000 times stronger binding to cannabis receptors when compared to traditional marijuana.”

Humans are armed with cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which THC reacts to with just enough imperfection that most people do not experience a negative reaction. However, these synthetic formulas that are plaguing the nation bind perfectly to the human cannabinoid receptors, which throws the reaction into full throttle mode, causing a much stronger response.

The bottom line is that these so-called synthetic cannabinoids are wreaking havoc on an obscene percentage of the population, with only one solution to the problem – putting an end to marijuana prohibition.

While this concept may sound like a bit of a stretch, it is important to understand that history repeats itself and that almost every unsavory situation that threatens to unravel the fibers of civil society comes with a blueprint towards finding a solution.

For example, during the days of alcohol prohibition, some people were engaging in the extremely dangerous practice of consuming methanol to scratch the boozehound’s itch. Not only did drinking this industrial inebriant result in tens of thousands of people going blind, but also it reportedly caused around 50,000 deaths. Fortunately, once prohibition ended, those who were forced to rely on wood spirits for a buzz had the availability of purchasing a safer alternative… and most did. Sure, there is still the occasional case that pops up from time to time about some idiot going blind from drinking methanol, but there are nowhere near the tens of thousands of reports that surfaced during the times of prohibition.

Therefore, it makes sense to consider that if the federal government would lift the nationwide ban on marijuana, there would undoubtedly be fewer cases (perhaps none at all) of people smoking spice in an attempt to get high. After all, why would anyone choose to ingest poison when they can grow cannabis in their backyard or purchase it legally down at the local dispensary? It’s simple… most wouldn’t.

What do you think? Should we stop calling spice synthetic marijuana? Tell us below.



  1. Bobby Ray

    August 22, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    I have tried K2 twice in my life both times it made me VIOLENTLY sick. Won’t touch it ever again! Good article though, I share it on FB so my friends can see it.

  2. Misti

    August 21, 2015 at 6:22 am

    I smoked this well got way stung out on this crazy dangerous stuff… Having smoked marijuana for years and also having a meth addiction I laughed at the people saying they were getting strung out on this stuff…. I was s needle user with my meth addiction… This stuff is the worst drug I have done… It is nothing like pot, I had to smoke at least 10 times a day had a 50 dollar a day habbit, the worst withdrawal I had ever had, and the sickest I had ever been… I was pawning anything of value, steeling anything of value, lost my job, almost my marriage, I have no idea how they can even compare this to pot… They are nothing of the same… Anyone who has not tried this please do not start… It is highly addictive and extremely dangerous…

  3. Lee T.

    August 20, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    I used to indulge in some recreational drugs back late 1960s,1970’s & 80’s)including weed and LSD. but the stuff today I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Too dangerous!

  4. ryan

    August 20, 2015 at 6:02 am

    I smoked this stuff for about a year. All different kinds. Mad hatter, buddha, twilite, super nova, bizzarro, head trip. I used to only smoke weed. Then i tried this stuff, and quit weed completely. This stuff is physically addicting. Once your hooked if you dont have your mprning fix, you get sick. Sweats, diarrhea, vomiting. I had to quit school because of the withdrawl effects. I couldnt go to school, and if I did, I would have had to smoke it in the bathroom to avoid getting sick. This shit is like meth. Totally messed up my life. Legalize marijuana, please.

  5. Ian

    August 20, 2015 at 4:09 am

    A huge difference between the two. The one is cannabis is a 100 natural product and spice is not

  6. Turtle

    August 19, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Yes I do believe in disbanning this drug period! My Mother &Brother. have been smoking this for a couple years and recently my mother passed and along with her already exsisting health problems ,Ibelieve this contributed to her death substantully!

  7. Levi Navin

    August 19, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    No it really shouldn’t call it synthetic marijuana the high is absolutely not like weed I got addicted to “California dreams” tasted like bubble gum and it made me very cold on a 90° day I put in a long sleeve a hoodie and a pair of sweat pants and wasn’t sweating I’d say this is pure poison.

  8. Shawn Bishop

    August 19, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    I live her in mobile alabama and the “spice” or as it’s called here “mojo” is the dumbest drug out there. First off I’m an avid user of cannabis and I have used spice or mojo before. But it made me feel as if my body was filling up with water. It completely freaked me out. And that was my first and last time using it. It’s stupid. To say it’s anything relatively close to marijuana is stupid. Marijuana is much better in my opinion, and it’s natural and want kill you. Unlike spice or “mojo.” Before using this b.s. pls know that if your in Alabama where this has been illegal for a while now if u get it remember it’s probably something someone made in there bathtub and sprayed with raid or some other dumb ass substance that’s harmful…… so pls be aware of what your buying or using. If u wanna get high do it with weed not fake Shit. And those of u scared of a drug test, if u were smart u would know how to beat a urine test if your dirty with marijuana. Pls tell more ppl about this dumb ass synthetic stuff and hope it gets banned for good and weed legal everywhere.

  9. Kip Caven

    August 17, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Another GREAT article Mike!! I always enjoy reading everything you write about and this one is especially good-the problem here where I live is bad (just like everywhere) and needs to be put out of its misery.
    MAYBE theres a genius or one out there that can put the methanol-prohibition problem together and wonder……hmmmmmmmm……….maybe if we made a PLANT legal nobody would EVER buy that crap again.
    Just a thought
    Keep up the great work!!!

    • Ash

      August 19, 2015 at 12:57 pm

      Synthetic spice is nothing like mariuanna. Not by a long shot. Get real people, mariuana has many health benifets. Spice kills your health faster then tabacco. Don’t be dumb. Do dabs.

  10. Bobby T

    August 17, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Great article.

    I run the largest online support group for synthetic cannabinoid addiction (yes, addiction). Our users regularly use the term synthetic marijuana, along with about a hundred others, to describe synthetic cannabinoids – a class of more than 700 drugs (and growing).

    Clearly, these drugs are not in the same safe class as natural marijuana.

    Unfortunately, the people who make synthetic cannabinoids keep marketing them as synthetic weed. That’s a big reason the media and the authorities keep calling it that.

    Like you, I think legalizing natural marijuana would make a dent.

    But I doubt it would solve the entire problem. Or even most of it.

    That’s because most spice users opt to use it for multiple reasons, and legalizing weed only affects 1 or 2 of them:

    1. Spice/K2 doesn’t show up on most drug tests.
    Most employers & courts still test for THC – including in legal states like CO and WA. As long as synthetics are undetectable, people will use them to keep their jobs.

    2. It’s much cheaper than illegal drugs.

    3. It’s harder to convict someone for using ‘noids
    The laws are not clear re. most of the chemicals, in most states. And it usually doesn’t show up on tests.

    4. The high is more intense than natural weed.
    This is a huge draw. Synthetic cannabinoids can create psychedelic experiences and seriously warp your reality. Hard for natural marijuana to compete.

    Also, once you’ve abused synthetic cannabinoids, your receptors are fried. You may find it impossible to get high off of natural weed for a very long time. This can push people back to spice.

    The medical research is seriously lacking behind the statements I just made above – but we’ve got more than 500 personal stories on our site plus hundreds of comments and active discussions about the dangers & withdrawals associated with synthetic cannabinoid (not marijuana!) abuse.

    Keep fighting the good fight.

    • Rob

      August 19, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      This is very true.

  11. Cannabis N.I.

    August 17, 2015 at 12:53 am

    Nasty stuff.

  12. Lee

    August 16, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    I smoked this stuff for several months last year and found it to be extremely addictive, it also changed my personality at the time, created depersonalization events and caused permanent visual deterioration via creating visual snow syndrome which was never present before and which I still have. I am convinced that this stuff is totally poisonous and toxic and that many of it’s effects on the body and mind and nervous system are permanent and irreversible. D O N ‘ T T O U C H I T ! ! !

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