It’s literally deadly, literally mind-numbing and so hazardous it renders people into near-literal zombies when it isn’t contaminated with enough rat poison to kill people. There may be no way to overestimate how profoundly bad “Spice,” “K2,” and the other do-it-yourself chemical cocktails sprayed onto plant material and sold as “synthetic marijuana” are for you.
Just in case no one was convinced, here comes yet another study further clarifying this fact, and with an angle that should sound alarms among the prohibition advocates who so tirelessly insist actual marijuana legalization is bad for youth. Turns out Spice, to which teens and others turn because real cannabis is not available, is way, way worse.
It turns out that adolescents are the most frequent solicitors of emergency-room services after using Spice, a fact gleaned by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.
They crunched emergency-room data, dating from 2018 to 2018, and pulled from 65 hospitals in 23 states. They found that teens who try Spice — rather than, say, actual cannabis — are at risk of “medical harm, including coma and seizures.”
Teens who used only synthetic cannabis were three times as likely to fall into a coma or suffer central-nervous-system disorders like seizures, the researchers found. And if a teen mixed Spice with another drug, they were up to four times as likely to experience “agitation” and possibly a seizure than cannabis users, according to the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics in early July.
“This study gives weight to the idea that you shouldn’t be using synthetic marijuana, because it is riskier than marijuana,” Scott Krakower, a psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital, told the website.
And maybe, he added, studies like this would compel teens to “think twice” before trying something so fraught with risk — and, from the sounds of things, not really offering anything much in the way of fun.
Well, no kidding! Perhaps as this recent study, or any of the studies that preceded it saying much the same thing, could compel various parties involved in the legalization debate to form a peculiar alliance. As much as certain individuals like to beat the drum about the “hidden” (or at least under-emphasized) dangers of actual, medical-grade, lab-tested cannabis — and they appear to have to stoop to mental gymnastics in order to make this case — certainly everybody from drug czar down to dime-bag connoisseur could agree.
Except, apparently not! The simplest reason why people use Spice is that they can. This is despite action taken by the federal government to ban the chemicals’ import and sale.
Cities including New York, where a particularly bad batch of synthetic pot briefly turned users into “zombies” a few summers ago, have launched limited interdiction campaigns to compel merchants to stop selling this poison. But here’s the nefarious thing about fake weed: It isn’t any one thing, it’s any number of things, like rat poison, or lab-crafted cannabinoids, or some other nightmarish sh*t put on plant material. That is, it could be anything — and it is very difficult to keep everyone from doing anything.
Among Spice’s attractions, despite its obvious and now well-documented risk, is that users can avoid drug tests. This is why Spice retains any value at all for people who are drug tested — think probationers, think students and think members of the military, dozens of whom were hospitalized last year after vaping some kind of CBD oil. (Initial reports from the military suggested that at least several Marines had died after either suffering a seizure or falling into a coma after vaping mystery oil, but that was later retracted.)
One of the simplest solutions to the Spice problem, then, is the most obvious: legalizing marijuana. It is hard to imagine a world in which access to legal actual cannabis is guaranteed where Spice still enjoys demand at all. (Another would be to devote law-enforcement resources to punishing Spice importers and merchants, and perhaps leave actual cannabis users alone.)
From a public-health perspective, it seems the smartest thing to do. If for no other reason, it’s something you can do for the kids — provided “the kids” were really the concern at all.
TELL US, have you ever tried Spice?