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Dangers of Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

Synthetic marijuana, also known as synthetic cannabinoid, is a man-made chemical that come in liquid form or in the form of plant material.teen using synthetic marijuana

The dried and shredded plant material has been sprayed with the synthetic chemical, whereas the liquid form is fully derived from man-made substances. The liquid is commonly vaporized and ingested via electronic cigarettes or other devices, and the shredded plant material is typically smoked. Synthetic cannabinoid is commonly referred to as synthetic marijuana as they are meant to mimic the chemicals found in the organic marijuana plant. It is for this reason that notion that synthetic marijuana is a safe alternative to traditional marijuana is erroneous. In fact, this viewpoint could not be further from the truth. The effects of synthetic marijuana can be very dangerous and in some cases have the potential to be life threatening.  

Spice/ K2

Both Spice and K2 are names that refer to synthetic marijuana. They are shredded plant material, spices, and/ or herbs that are sprayed with synthetic compounds, similar to that of THC. THC, Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Spice, or K2, is typically sold in the form of dried leaves and its appearance can resemble that of potpourri. It is ingested most commonly via smoking out of a pipe or rolled into joints, but occasionally is steeped in water creating a tea to be drunk. 

Liquid Marijuana/ Liquid Incense

Synthetic cannabinoid sold in liquid form, liquid marijuana, is also known as liquid incense. Typically liquid incense is inhaled as a vapor via e-cigarette or other devices. Similar to the solid forms of synthetic cannabinoid, liquid marijuana is fully man-made of synthetic chemical ingredients. There are countless manufacturers, each holding the sole authority over the exact ingredients and percentages that make up the synthetic drug. The lack of regulations surrounding the ingredients keep the consumer completely in the dark regarding the substance they are ingesting. Liquid marijuana can be purchased over the Internet. While, these products commonly include a label that reads “not for human consumption,” most consumers are aware that they are in fact used for ingestion purposes. 

Side Effects of Synthetic Marijuana

There are a number of side effects that arise from the use of any type of synthetic marijuana. Some of the effects are similar to the effects of traditional marijuana consumption and can include the following examples:

  • Relaxation
  • A heightened sense of awareness
  • Euphoria

Some of the more dangerous side effects that may be exhibited when ingesting synthetic marijuana can include examples such as:

  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Seizures 

Synthetic cannabinoids are part of a group of illicit drugs called NPS (new psychoactive substances). These are unregulated mind-altering drugs. Due to the fact that synthetic marijuana is unregulated, it has the potential to be laced with toxic substances, resulting in dangerous effects. With the ingestion of any form of unregulated drugs, a person runs risks of experiencing a myriad of adverse short and long-term effects. Furthermore, long-term, regular use of synthetic cannabinoids can lead to addiction. In teens with a history of mental illness and/ or substance use disorder, the risk of addiction is even greater. 

For Information and Support 

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.


American Association of Poison Control Centers: “Synthetic Cannabinoid Data: July 31, 2018.”

Brain Research Bulletin: “International trends in spice use: Prevalence, motivation for use, relationship to other substances, and perception of use and safety for synthetic cannabinoids.”

National Institute on Drug Abuse: “What are Synthetic Cannabinoids?” “What is Marijuana?”

NIDA. (2018, February 5). Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2/Spice). Retrieved from on 2019, October 21.

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