Synthetic types of marijuana, commonly known as blaze, spice, and K2, are being consumed by a growing number of adolescent children and young adults, and are sending many of them to the emergency room, researchers from the Children’s National Medical Center, Washington D.C., reported in the journal Pediatrics.

The authors explained that these synthetic cannabinoids are made in illegal laboratories and sold in convenience stores and gas stations in several communities in the USA. The Pediatrics article, “Clinical Presentation Due to Synthetic Cannabinoids”, describes typical signs and symptoms of intoxication so that doctors can be aware of them.

Synthetic cannabinoids have euphoric and psychoactive effects on the user, very much like those of natural marijuana. However, there are other effects associated with the synthetic versions of marijuana, some of which may be especially dangerous.

Young patients throughout the USA have arrived at emergency rooms with not only restlessness and agitation, but also diaphoresis, catatonia, extreme aggressions, and the inability to speak.

From 2010 to 2011, the American Association of Poison Control Centers received 4,500 telephone calls related to synthetic cannabinoid poisoning.

This latest report describes the hallmark signs of abuse and discusses what treatments the health care professional should consider.

The authors say the effects of intoxication are short-lived. However, health care professionals are becoming increasingly concerned about the potential long-term effects of regular synthetic cannabinoids usage.

Spice drug
Here termed as “Spice herbal incense”, an example of a synthetic marijuana

According to sellers, synthetic marijuana consists of a mixture of traditional medicinal herbs – a blend with mild effects, such as those experienced with natural marijuana. According to Wikipedia, sellers cite the following herbs as ingredients – Scutellaria nana, Nelumbo nucifera, Leonotis leonurus, Nymphaea caerulea, Canavalia maritima, Pedicularis densiflora, Zornia latifolia, and Leonurus sibiricus. Laboratory tests in several countries, including a government-run one in Germany, found that these claims were false.

Scientists did find large quantities of synthetic tocopherol present. Researchers suggest that what is listed on the packet of so-called synthetic marijuana products may be completely inaccurate. The German government, in fact, in a risk assessment of these products in 2008, concluded that their plant ingredients were “unclear”, the source of the synthetic tocopherol was unknown, and their euphoric and psychoactive effects come from substances that might have nothing to do with the so-called plant ingredients.

According to US authorities, synthetic cannabinoids are products of plant origin that have had chemicals sprayed on them; these chemicals produce toxicity. The chemicals are hard to detect through standard drug tests, making them popular with young people.

Synthetic cannabinoids are usually smoked.

Written by Christian Nordqvist