Synthetic marijuana, otherwise referred to as “spice” and “k2”, have been linked to rapidly increasing hospital visits across the US.
Birmingham, AL — Synthetic marijuana, otherwise referred to as “spice” and “k2”, has been linked to rapidly increasing hospital visits across the US.
Reports of teens and young adults winding up in emergency rooms due to negative reactions to spice have been appearing for years, causing the DEA to declare the 5 most commonly used synthetic compounds as schedule 1 narcotics. But despite this, the market for synthetic marijuana is still alive (surprise, surprise).
The market is so alive, in fact, that the rate of spice-related hospital visits have quadrupled from this time last year. According to the AAPCC, from Jan. 1 to April 29, poison control centers have received a total of 2,365 calls regarding exposure and adverse effects of synthetic marijuana.
Hospitals are not only reporting an increase in spice-related visits, but an increase in the intensity of its adverse effects. Officials are unsure of whether this is due to a widespread increase in usage or a change in the synthesis that has triggered such a dramatic spike. However, according to Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center, one of the most common chemical involved in these incidents has been identified as mab-chminaca.
Common overdose symptoms include hyperactivity, hallucinations, sweating, agitation and/or anxiety, psychosis, seizures, skin/eye irritation, and in some cases, coma and even death.
Aside from its dangerous effects, one of the biggest issues with synthetic marijuana is chemical consistency. According to experts, the chemical compounds used in spice constantly change. The potency varies as well as the synthesis, leaving users without a sure way to confirm what they are taking. This doesn’t just cause potential problems for the user, but issues in the emergency room as well.
“The people in the emergency rooms don’t know what to test for,” Dr. Eric Wish, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland says. “When you tweak a molecule, you don’t know how it’s going to affect the brain. It’s a huge problem for public health.”
In just over a month, Alabama alone saw 462 hospital visits regarding negative reactions to spice. 96 of them ended up hospitalized and 2 of them died.
So with the risk so clear, what is bringing people to consume this rubbish? Are they not informed? Possibly. Youthful defiance and, dare I say, stupidity, could be obvious contributors to the issue. However, that doesn’t explain why grown adults are also partaking.
The answer is simple: these people want to be able to relax and burn one down without the law breathing down their neck and risking their jobs in the process. Unfortunately, synthetic marijuana just isn’t actual marijuana. So rather than taking a few tokes and relaxing after a day at work like any hard working adult should be entitled to, there are people ending up in the hospital for acute psychosis, hallucinations, and seizures. Sure, state and federal marijuana policies aren’t forcing people to resort to synthetic drugs. But the fact that “free” Americans find it necessary to turn to fake weed in order to dance around archaic and oppressive drug policy is a major moral and health issue.
If the DEA is truly concerned about spice’s threat to public health, here’s a solution: stop punishing people for smoking real cannabis and maybe they’ll stick to that instead of seizure-inducing chemicals.
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