Marijuana has been around for many decades; conversely, synthetic marijuana is fairly new. That is only the beginning of what separates these two similarly named, yet decidedly different, recreational drugs. Marijuana is grown in soil—synthetic marijuana is created in a lab. Importantly, marijuana is a relatively benign drug, whereas its synthetic counterpart has the power to kill.
Although originally marketed as providing a “legal high,” synthetic marijuana, also known as K2, was banned by the national government in 2012. Unfortunately, not unlike prescription medication, many buy into the notion that because it was once legal, K2 must be safe. This couldn’t be more inaccurate, as seen by the Oct. 6 report of 55 people in Pennsylvania being hospitalized after involvement with a “bad batch” of K2.
Not only is synthetic marijuana addictive and extremely dangerous, but it can also be life-threatening. This is because it’s never tested for safety, and therefore, those who use it really have no idea what chemicals are in the drug. After only one use, people have been known to fall into states of psychosis, while others have experienced sudden seizures, muscle spasms, and tremors. Additionally, extreme hallucinations and suicidal thoughts and behaviors have also occurred.
This problem is nationwide. In May, Texas authorities reported that nearly 120 people statewide overdosed on synthetic marijuana within a five day period. The following month, 28 people in Florida were admitted to a local hospital within the span of 24 hours, all having suffered serious side effects from the use of K2. That same month, hospitals in Louisiana reported seeing an influx of patients who were having seizures and experiencing hallucinations, reportedly after using this substance.
In one incident, the symptoms were so severe that a rescuer was required to perform CPR on one of the patients. Most tragic of all, in July, a 19 year old California teen took only one hit of synthetic marijuana; he went into a coma, experienced brain swelling, and died.
More nationwide awareness and education is needed regarding the truth about synthetic marijuana. Until then, people will continue to be harmed by this dangerous drug.