Spice, otherwise known as K2, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, or Moon Rocks, is a lab-produced, mind-altering drug that’s been soaring in popularity in recent years.
Although it’s often marketed as a “safer alternative to traditional marijuana,” spice is dangerous and can even be deadly.
Its side effects include hallucinations, seizures, and what scientists describe as a general “loss of contact with reality.”
Giant underground laboratories are churning out thousands of pounds of the stuff. The worst part? There’s zero quality control in the manufacturing process, meaning that users have no way of knowing how much of the psychoactive ingredient in the drug they’re actually getting.
Reports suggest that since 2009, drugs like spice, or synthetic marijuana, have killed roughly 1,000 Americans -- many of them young people in high school.
The drugmakers change up the specific ingredients in the drugs so fast -- and produce them in such massive quantities -- that drug enforcement can't keep up.
There, wholesale buyers purchase the drugs and turn them into liquids by dissolving them in acetone or alcohol.
So far this year, poison centres received reports of 3,548 exposures to synthetic marijuana, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centres.
Many experts say 'synthetic marijuana' is a huge misnomer for these drugs, since they produce far different effects and can be up to 100 times more potent than traditional marijuana.
For example, the first form of the psychoactive ingredient used in spice was called JWH-018, named for the initials of the scientist John W. Huffman who first invented it in 2008.
Just like with the main psychoactive ingredient in traditional marijuana, THC, the psychoactive ingredients in synthetic marijuana bind to the brain's CB1 receptors. Because spice is so much stronger, however, it is much more likely to cause everything from seizures to psychosis.
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