Synthetic marijuana, often known as K2 or Spice, has become popular among younger children as an alternative to regular marijuana and other drugs. Children and teenagers are more likely to use the drug over organic marijuana because these substances can often be found at gas stations and convenience stores around the country. However, synthetic marijuana is extremely dangerous, even after very little use. In fact, there have been hundreds of incidents across the nation of people using different variations of the drug and having seizures, psychotic episodes and even becoming homicidal or suicidal.
One of the main problems with synthetic marijuana is that there is very little known about the drug. This is not a drug that is being produced in any regulated laboratory, so there is no type of oversight whatsoever. Despite the fact that many states have banned the substances, chemists overseas who make the drugs alter their formulas to circumvent the laws to keep more drugs filling the shelves.
In order to find out more about synthetic marijuana, a research team has been granted nearly $3 million to study the these drugs. Scientists at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) have committed to a five-year study that will look into the effects of synthetic marijuana use. This is especially important because the phenomenon is relatively new, and not much is known about the long term implications of the drug.
“Synthetic cannabinoid products such as K2 and Spice are deceptively marketed as safe and legal alternatives to marijuana, but admissions to emergency rooms and calls to poison control centers suggest that they are certainly not safe,” said Paul Prather, Ph.D., the study’s principal investigator and professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. “Users of these products are experiencing psychosis, seizures, heart attacks and even death.”
In addition to studying the long term effects of synthetic marijuana, scientists also hope to find out more about the type of people that are most likely to use the drug. This information would help lawmakers and public officials in creating specialized public service announcements, targeting key demographics. More information about it can also help treatment professionals counteract the effects of the drug and develop specialized protocols, if needed.