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What Is Spice / K2? The Facts On Synthetic Marijuana 2017

Spice / K2: It’s Not What You Think!

Many people have heard about Spice or K2, also known as synthetic cannabis, fake pot, synthetic marijuana, legal weed, herbal incense and potpourri.

Most people, though, think ‘spice’ is a seasoning for your food like paprika or pepper. They think ‘K2’ is a famous mountain.

And that’s exactly what the makers of this dangerous drug want non-users to think.

Most people have no idea how this awful synthetic drug is affecting millions of people all over the world.

The word is leaking out, however, as reports to Poison Control and emergency room visits have skyrocketed over the past few years.

So, what exactly is Spice / K2?

What Does Spice Look Like?

Traditional smoked Spice/K2 looks like herbal tobacco, or natural marijuana.

It’s actually made from dried plant material and chopped up herbs in a mixture of colors including beige, cream red and brown.

The active ingredients are synthetic chemicals (cannabinoids) sprayed onto the plant material.

The most popular brands sold today are Spice and K2, but Spice is sold under more than 600 names including Mojo, Scooby Snax, Black Mamba and Annihilation.

Today, vaping the liquid form of synthetic marijuana is a fast-rising trend.

The increasing popularity of e-cigarettes, vape pens and hookah pens – especially in high schools and universities – is the reason behind this shift.

What Is Spice Made Of?

Natural marijuana gains its mind-altering effects from a chemical known as THC.

Synthetic marijuana, on the other hand, is coated with synthetic cannabinoids – a family of over 700 research chemicals.

In other words, synthetic marijuana / K2 / Spice is completely different than natural marijuana.

In 2008, the scientific and law enforcement communities began to study what was actually contained in synthetic cannabis mixtures. What they found was alarming.

Analysis showed that rather than being a simple mixture of harmless herbs, such as canavalia maritima, leonotis leonurus, zornia latifolia and others, the product had in fact been sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids.

These are not the “All Natural” ingredients listed on their packaging and on the sellers’ web sites. These chemicals are similar to natural cannabinoid found in marijuana, THC – tetrahydracannabinol, but affect our brain receptors differently.

Spice and K2 may contain one of many synthetic cannabinoids such as JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, AM-2201 UR-144, XLR-11, AKB4, cannabicyclohexanol and AB-CHMINACA, AB-PINACA or AB-FUBINACA.

Even the prescription drug, phenazapam, has been found in some products.

Synthetic cannabinoids happens to fit into the same receptors that THC latches onto in the brain, so they can have an effect similar to THC.

However, some synthetic cannabinoids are 100X stronger than THC and many operate on other brain receptors, too.

This can cause a number of significant negative side effects including high blood pressure, blurred vision, heart attack, vomiting, seizures, hallucinations, and severe anxiety and paranoia.

Deaths have also been associated with use of the drug.

Synthetic marijuana is not sold as a single brand, nor does it make use of just one ingredient.

There are a number of different manufacturers who use the same basic approach, but produce very different chemicals.

How Is Synthetic Marijuana Made?

It wasn’t long after the use of Spice & K2 became available that people started experiencing and reporting adverse side effects, including serious psychosis.

Synthetic cannabinoids are produced as an oil or a crystalline powder that can easily be sprayed on plant material or any other low cost garbage the manufacturers can get away with to create a product that can be smoked and provide some kind of high.

Most spice manufacturers don’t follow high manufacturing standards. Many of the chemicals are produced in cheap basement labs in China or Russia.

Because of the wide variety of chemicals involved and the sloppy manufacturing methods used to produce them, the health risks of one batch may not be the same as another batch, turning use of the drug into a game of Russian roulette.

Chemical impurities also carry additional, and possibly much greater, risks.

In liquid forms of Spice or K2, the variety of chemicals may be greater. Some suspect that a few brands of liquid Spice may contain traces of synthetic psychedelics such as 2C-P.

Analysis by the German government in 2008 showed that some products contained almost none of the supposedly mild traditional herbs that were advertised as ingredients.

Around the world, governments have begun to pay attention to spice. One after another, countries find that these products, far from being innocent, contain very dangerous artificial chemicals which are responsible for producing the so called “natural” psychotropic effects.

Spice manufacturers continue to develop new varieties of chemicals in an attempt to get around new laws against synthetic cannabis.

Very few synthetic cannabinoids have been tested on human beings, so none of them can be considered safe.

Where Did Spice Come From?

Spice (synthetic cannabinoid) was first sold as a recreational drug in 2004, in the UK.

By 2006, it had gained a considerable hold on the market, and the brand name Spice (along with another brand, K2) had become a generic term for all synthetic cannabis.

At first, people believed Spice was simply a mixture of harmless herbs that had a similar effect to marijuana, so it was legally sold all over the world, especially via the internet. It was attractively packaged in small colorful sachets, and generally marketed as a herbal smoking tobacco substitute, or as incense. The packaging had a kind of 60’s, summer of love, retro feel, which gave it an aura of harmlessness.

The product itself looks very much like herbal tobacco or even potpourri.

In fact, Spice is often sold as potpourri, room deodorizer or incense, purporting to be an innocent product for scenting rooms and will usually have the warning, “Not for human consumption” on the packet.

But this is just a marketing strategy to ward off legal threats.

Consumers, through the grapevine, know perfectly well that they are buying something intended to be smoked in a joint or a bong pipe.

Is Synthetic Marijuana Legal?

In most countries around the world, including the United States, synthetic cannabis is illegal. Spice use is also banned for U.S. Military personnel.

There are, unfortunately, some countries around the world where synthetic cannabinoids remain legal. This is creating a tangle of problems for authorities in the U.S and is probably increasing the use of synthetic cannabis.

In May, 2013, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) took action and formally banned Synthetic Marijuana as a Class I drug, making distribution of legal weed a federal crime in the US.

Unfortunately, the DEA action only covered a small number of chemicals, leaving pushers legal room to sell different chemicals in their place. Some states are taking further action to limit all forms of spice.

The manufacturers of synthetic cannabis work hard to stay one step ahead of the law and are continuously creating new compounds to side-step regulations.

Today, it’s basically a cat and mouse game between the creators of these dangerous substances and the legislators who seek to protect the unsuspecting public, especially young people who are easily conned into thinking that they have somehow found legal, safe weed.

As fast as common synthetic cannabinoids are banned, the producers create different versions which can slip through the legal net. This is creating huge problems as the authorities attempt to cut of the many heads of the hydra.

Today, it is estimated there are well over 200 synthetic cannabinoids sold on the street, with about 50 of them currently listed in the US as federal Class I drugs.

The following 7-minute news report by CNN explains just how hard it is for law enforcement to get their hands around this fast-growing problem.

What Does Spice/K2 Do To You?

Almost no synthetic cannabinoids sold on the street today have been tested on human beings; none of them can be considered safe.

The effects on people who use spice are many and varied, but often it’s bad news.

Side effects include many of the classic symptoms of hard core drug addiction: intense cravings, vomiting, extreme agitation, psychotic episodes including hallucinations, and even heart attacks.

An expert in the field and the man who the chemical JWH is named after, Professor John W Huffman, is quoted as saying,

People who use it are idiots.

Today, synthetic marijuana is widely believed to be more dangerous than the real thing.

According to CBS News, more than 11,400 people attended the emergency room in 2010 due to the effects of Spice.

In 2015, the number of bad reaction reports to US Poison Control centers has tripled vs. 2014.

Most users are young and ignorant to the negative effects synthetic marijuana can have on them. Some have died from their first exposure to the drug.

This 2-minute clip from PBS NewsHour shares the experiences of three teens who tried Spice for the first time.

The real problem with fake weed is that it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s sold with a nice, natural image, promising the user harmless herbs and a natural high.

In fact, spice is an unpredictable, untested synthetic chemical that offers no labeling to see what you’re actually using, and the effects of use can be devastatingly harmful to many.

Is Synthetic Marijuana Addictive?

We get this question a lot.

The short answer is, YES.  Absolutely.

It’s nothing like real marijuana, in this way.

Unfortunately, it’s taken the medical, scientific and legal community years to catch-up to the realities of this new class of drug.

Today, there is general consensus among health professionals and government organizations that synthetic marijuana is addictive.

But the education of America has really just begun.

During the period 2009-2012, the US experienced a sharp rise in Poison Control Center calls, police calls and emergency room visits related to synthetic marijuana.

By 2012, synthetic weed had become the second-most abused drug in US high schools, according to the NIDA.

The side effects and withdrawal symptoms were becoming clear to public officials, so many cities and states began to ask for legal action.

In April and August of 2015, the country experienced yet another outbreak of overdoses related to one of the newer street chemicals.

In reaction to these outbreaks, leading government and industry health organizations now classify synthetic cannabinoids as dangerous and addictive drugs. These include:

While most professionals agree on the addictive nature of spice and K2, serious medical research into synthetic cannabis is still underway.

Where Can I Learn More About Spice/K2?

While we wait for research to be completed, the next best way to learn about spice addiction is to listen to spice addicts and their loved ones tell their stories.

This is why we launched this site in 2013.

Since then, our users have submitted over a thousand personal accounts of addiction to synthetic marijuana.

The best 1,000 stories are available for you to read on this site.

All of the stories posted here are real, raw and unedited (except for fixing typos/formatting).

The user stories and discussions on this site paint a consistent and vivid picture of just how addictive spice can be, for example:

If you haven’t started using synthetic marijuana, then I hope this article steers you clear of it.

If you are using synthetic marijuana (smoking or vaping), then I hope you’ve learned that spice is dangerous, addictive and quitting spice can be hard.

Don’t believe people who tell you this isn’t a serious addiction.

Please get professional help, if you need it.

View Comments

  • You seem to be talking about the effects of spice, not the effects of withdrawing from it. It also seems that you are typing in comment sections while watching your brother have seizures.

  • People would never use this bullsh-- if they could get real marijuana without the threat of legal harassment, arrest, jail, fines, and a permanent criminal record.

    • OHDNSA, Soo the answer is to legalize drugs'.? Respectfully pot is not a benign substance. How many dead children have you pulled out of accidents on the roads due to this poison? not to mention full families. Marijuana adds another reason for mayhem. Why would any responsible person demand a right to get wasted? What if a family member had a severe injury and one is too irresponsibly mess up to save them. Also this stuff dangerously raises blood pressure and speeds up the heart thus can cause heart attacks & problems. Marijuana has triple the carcinogens of cigarettes and reeks havoc on neurotransmitters causing permanent damage in cases .Tell us again how good of an idea this stuff is to legalize and use.

      • Whos advocating that you should smoke weed and drive ? Also alcohol is legal, does that mean we all down a bottle of vodka and get wasted ?

      • Think alcohol is what your thinking of by the way wish that was illegal hey but if you can find me where you got your information from a credible sorcerer that can be verified I'll kiss you assume literally not saying people should use but I think alcohol what you mean I'm sure there's some deaths like that but there's a lot when people haven't had anything at all in their system if you can prove I would truly like to know not being smart assume really would like to know I'm not perfect nor do I know everything and am always open to listen and learn

      • what about alcohol I notice you scream and shout about Maryjane I use all the time it does not control the pain I'm in but it does stop me from caring about it, I would rather see alcohol banned that screws your liver, brain, stomach, and with driving kills many more people this includes children , Maryjane does none of these things.

      • Those are old arguments - most don't make a lot of sense when tobacco and alcohol are legal .... carcinogens are higher is inaccurate - certain carcinogens are 3x higher, but there are many carcinogens added to tobacco that don't even exist in pot... But even if we are to use that number, people who smoke tobacco tend to smoke more than 3x the number of cigarettes .... In reality, the usage costs of pot on society pale to that of alcohol - all of your 'family member dying' arguments are worthless unless you ban other substances as well.... Also ... is you look at the imperial evidence gathered in counties such as Portugal, you'd know that decriminalization has help significantly - medical costs, reduced crime rates (specifically those related to trafficking - obviously user rates went to zero so you can't count those - howevér it did reduce justice system costs and incarcerations costs) Remember, legalization - like the abolition of prohibition - reduces the associated crime - but that said, when the industry is regulated, you still need to go after the serious illegal traffickers - that goes without saying ... of course with legal sources most of that would dry up ...

  • How about QUIT DOING DRUGS. Can anyone name ONE PERSON that drug addiction and abuse made for a wonderful and healthy life?

  • I'm currently working on a documentary on Spice addiction, and I would love to hear your story if you're in the Mid-South area (Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas). Whether you are currently addicted to Spice, in recovery, or the close friend/loved one of a Spice addict, all stories are welcome. Contact me at "spicethedocumentary@gmail.com" I look forward to hearing from you!

  • 72hrs is the standard for a psych hold (depending on the state); anything past that is either an admission to the facility or a discharge from it. An admission requires finding something clinically psychologically wrong with him (after making sure there's nothing medically wrong with him that's causing these issues): suicidal ideations, (active) manic episodes, a threat to himself and/or others, etc... this girl does report that he was suicidal and had a gun. However, if her brother was in psych for 72hrs, and they're not holding him, then either 1.) there's a medical reason that needed to be treated first before admitting him to psych, or 2.) he said all the right things so that he wouldn't be admitted. And that happens a lot.

    • It in no way gives a high anything like weed wish people would stop associating it with weed and giving weed a bad name that suit is horrible and smells horrendous

      • So i been an addict to almost all downers. Spice is nothing like weed. If anything weed wont even cut it if i decide to get high again. Always reminded me of heroin. It comes fast and strong theres nothing wrong. Which is great the first year or two. Until like ive seen some people say, they stop their daily grooming and live in filth and vomit because you eventually just dont care. I decided to stop when my son had to get my father to ask what was wrong with his daddy because hes very young and i was unconscious and on the floor puking and going through seizures. Woke up in the ER that night. And i lived like that for the last almost 4 years. All because i wanted to keep getting high when i had to stop smoking pot. Just dont do drugs at all or move to where pots legal and dont experiment further if thats what you want. Seriously though outside of oldtimer potheads, whos ever heard anyone proudly bragging about the last 20 years of drug use ....

      • I've smoked weed 1000000x and I smoked this stuff. They felt the same to me personally, everyone is different tho

  • I know a gal who will do anything for spice.....she has had her kids taken away from her and still continues to smoke incessantly 24/7 till she falls down....she sells her food stamps for it...gets people to drive her over 30 miles to get it.....she vomits up blood....her kids live this with her....she is totally unapproachable about getting help...just stays messed up 24/7 and has done this for years....she will die from this addiction....I have never seen anyone like this smoking marijuana...God awful drug.

    • "she has had her kids taken away from her" ... "her kids live this with her" Something about your tale just does not ring true.

  • Surely, the obvious answer is to legalise marijuana (As some states in America have done). That way, people won't need to resort to synthetics, and the government can earn themselves some tax revenue...

  • I have tested positive for this drug and DO NOT smoke. Does anyone know what would cause this?! Since the tests are fairly new I can't find any research. I believe it's from ibuprofen but don't know for sure and it's about to ruin my life (this false positive result) anyone that has any ideas pls share!!!

    • Ibuprofen? If i were you, i'd run as far away from pharmaceutical products and the pharmacological industry as possible!

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