A lack of thorough education regarding medical marijuana strains and the side effects of marijuana may be hurting efforts aimed at legalizing weed. Headlines citing the horrors of synthetic marijuana are leading to confusion with natural medical marijuana strains because of a simple similarity in name. Synthetic cannabis is a completely different drug than medical marijuana. Synthetic weed aims to replicate the effects of marijuana but often falls criminally short, resulting in some rather grotesque stories. You’ve seen the alarming effects of synthetic weed
in videos of naked men punching holes in wooden fences and equally naked men squatting like frogs in front of police Interceptors. But it's rarely made clear that the effects of synthetic cannabis bare no relation to the effects of any medical marijuana strains.
UPDATE: Reminders of Why “Synthetic Marijuana” and Cannabis Should Not Be Considered Similar
It’s been a couple of years since we first published this blog and still people are often confusing K2 as a somehow safer alternative to cannabis. Again, this probably comes down to the problematic term “synthetic marijuana.” It’s important that people spread the word that Spice, K2 or whatever-you-want-to-call-it has very few similarities, if any, to cannabis and is a much more hazardous substance. In July 2018, a particularly nasty batch of K2
made the rounds, leading to hundreds of emergency room visits. It turns out that batch was cut with rat poison. Earlier this month (August 15, 2018 to be exact), 30 individuals overdosed
on “synthetic marijuana” at a park in New Haven, Connecticut. The various substances that hide under the umbrella of “synthetic marijuana” are vastly different than natural occurring cannabis and shouldn’t be held as similar simply because of an ill-fitting name.
The Effects of Natural Medical Marijuana Strains
Scientific research has concluded several times over that the psychoactive effects of marijuana encompass a laid-back, mellow sense of euphoria. However, even natural medical marijuana strains have a downside. Contrary to what dated propaganda films like Reefer Madness claim in hysterical melodrama, the most common negative effects of medical marijuana include:
- drying of the mouth
- temporarily handicapped motor skills
- red eyes
- hindrance to short-term memory
- rapid heart rate
- increased hunger
- drop in blood pressure
- awkward coordination
- difficulty concentrating
The Effects of Synthetic Cannabis
Synthetic marijuana is a completely different animal than any medical marijuana strains and the proof can be found in its psychoactive effects. While the synthesized cannabinoids are designed to emulate naturally grown cannabis, the effects are often much more severe. This is because, while synthetic cannabis compounds bind to the same receptors as the natural cannabinoids in medical marijuana strains, the designer cannabinoids bond much more strongly inducing a more severe chemical reaction. Science has not measured the specific effects of synthetic cannabis on the brain, but users have described the high as inclusive of:
- elevated mood
- altered perception
- increased heart rate
- nausea and vomiting
Synthetic marijuana has also been theorized as a linking factor to heart attacks in certain cases.
Synthetic Cannabis is Not the Marijuana People are Trying to Legalize
In a recent article about a man who smoked synthetic marijuana before stabbing his wife repeatedly, severing her head, gouging out his own eye, and cutting off his own hand, a highly rated comment read, “Oh yeah…marijuana should be legalized, huh.” A lack of education may be allowing the average person to believe legalizing weed is the same as legalizing synthetic cannabis. In reality, you used to be able to easily buy synthetic weed from your local gas stations in several of the same states that currently outlaw natural medical marijuana strains. This is because synthetic marijuana is not marijuana. Medical marijuana strains can induce paranoia in users but nothing close to the psychotic heights a user can reach after smoking synthetic weed.
Cities are currently struggling to stay atop the ever-shifting synthetic cannabis industry in an attempt to rid the streets of a truly dangerous drug. Meanwhile crime rates in cities that offer legal medical marijuana strains are enjoying a decreased crime rate, specifically violent crime. Yet the word “synthetic marijuana” is synonymous with “marijuana” in the casual reader’s mind. People are left with the mistaken impression that users smoking medical marijuana strains temporarily lose their minds in an orgy of public nudity and senseless bloody violence akin to bath salts.
The reality is that synthetic marijuana is comprised of a grab bag of shredded plant matter and various chemicals; a shot in the dark at creating the same psychoactive effects as marijuana. The synthetic drug is perhaps better referred to by its street names of K2 and Spice since its composition and effects bare so little resemblance to those of medical marijuana strains.
It’s difficult to tell at this stage whether the horrific news stories about synthetic cannabis are having any significant impact on efforts directed at legalizing weed. Ironically, the illegal nature of medical marijuana strains is what allowed the far more dangerous synthetic marijuana to become so readily available and prevalent. Legalizing weed may actually reduce the appeal of synthetic weed for many users. It’s just up to the public to recognize the difference between synthetic marijuana and natural medical marijuana strains before the time comes to vote.