The country has become divided on its opposing views on the safety of using recreational marijuana. But not all marijuana is the same. Naturally-grown marijuana is very different from the many types of synthetic marijuana products that are available.
Although some states have legalized recreational use of marijuana, 45 states have laws that restrict or outlaw the use of synthetic cannabinoids or drugs, according to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, Barbra Roach, who oversees the Denver region.A recent Huffington Post interview with Roach reveals the differences between synthetic and organic marijuana.
The basic difference is that one grows in a field or a grow room and one is created in a chemical lab. The first synthetic form of marijuana was created in the 1970s by scientist John W. Huffman, who had a federal grant to study how drugs affect the brain. The synthetic marijuana was used on lab animals and not intended to be used by humans at all.
Compounds in synthetic marijuana mimic natural THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in cannabis that induces the euphoric high that customers crave. However, these compounds are much more potent in synthetic forms of marijuana because different producers are applying chemicals in different amounts and in different compounds, making it difficult and dangerous for customers to really know what they are getting.
There are a variety of different names on the market for synthetic marijuana, including K2, Sexy Monkey, Spice, Mamba and even potpourri so those selling it can skirt around the law. Some labels even caution customers not to ingest it, another trick of the trade.
How Is Synthetic Marijuana Made?
Because it’s chemically made by multiple people in multiple labs, the process and the compounds are never identical. Even within the same facility that produces one brand name compound, different mixtures with different potencies occur. So just because a person has used one type of synthetic before and had no problems, that doesn’t guarantee the next packet they purchase will affect their body the same. Roach asserts that there are psychological and physical problems that happen to people who take synthetic marijuana.
If synthetic marijuana can be more dangerous and life-threatening than naturally-grown marijuana, then what’s the attraction? The National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that synthetic marijuana is just second to marijuana as the illicit drug high school seniors use the most.
Young adults find synthetic marijuana alluring because it gives them a stronger high than regular marijuana, and its chemicals might not appear on drug tests. Because lab chemicals are applied to synthetic marijuana’s herbs, the potency of the drug can be very high. These drugs can cause a mental addiction that makes users want that next high, and can cause multiple temporary physical problems like vomiting and long-term physical problems like kidney damage.
Ironically, young adults may feel safer using synthetic marijuana rather than regular marijuana because the drugs are less likely to show up in drug tests. But Roach contends they are more dangerous than using regular marijuana.