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Spice is a mix of herbs shredded plant material and laboratory-made chemicals with mind-altering effects.

Description

Synthetic cannabinoids are human-made mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices.

These products are also known as herbal or liquid incense. These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are similar to chemicals found in the marijuana plant. Because of this similarity, synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes misleadingly called synthetic marijuana or fake weedand they are often marketed as safe, legal alternatives to that drug.

K2/spice: what to know about these dangerous drugs

In fact, they are not safe and may affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana; their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, more dangerous or even life-threatening. Synthetic cannabinoids are part of a group of drugs called new psychoactive substances NPS. NPS are unregulated mind-altering substances that have become newly available on the market and are intended to produce the same effects as illegal drugs.

Some of these substances may have been around for years but have reentered the market in altered chemical forms, or due to renewed popularity. Synthetic cannabinoid products are often labeled "not for human consumption. However, the only parts of these products that are natural are the dried plant materials.

Chemical tests show that the active, mind-altering ingredients are cannabinoid compounds made in laboratories. Manufacturers sell these products in colorful foil packages and plastic bottles to attract consumers. They market these products under a wide variety of specific brand names. For several years, synthetic cannabinoid mixtures have been easy to buy in drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, gas stations, and over the internet. Because the chemicals used in them have no medical benefit and a high potential for abuse, authorities have made it illegal to sell, buy, or possess some of these chemicals.

However, manufacturers try to sidestep these laws by changing the chemical formulas in their mixtures.

Easy access and the belief that synthetic cannabinoid products are natural and therefore harmless, have likely contributed to their use among young people. Another reason for their continued use is that standard drug tests cannot easily detect many of the chemicals used in these products. The most common way to use synthetic cannabinoids is to smoke the dried plant material.

Synthetic cannabinoids (spice)

Users also mix the sprayed plant material with marijuana or brew it as tea. Other users buy synthetic cannabinoid products as liquids to vaporize in e-cigarettes.

Synthetic cannabinoids act on the same brain cell receptors as THC deltatetrahydrocannabinolthe mind-altering ingredient in marijuana. So far, there have been few scientific studies of the effects of synthetic cannabinoids on the human brain, but researchers do know that some of them bind more strongly than marijuana to the cell receptors affected by THC and can produce much stronger effects. The resulting health effects can be unpredictable and dangerous. Because the chemical composition of many synthetic cannabinoid products is unknown and may change from batch to batch, these products are likely to contain substances that cause dramatically different effects than the user might expect.

People who have used synthetic cannabinoids and have been taken to emergency rooms have shown severe effects including:. Yes, synthetic cannabinoids can be addictive. Regular users trying to quit may have the following withdrawal symptoms:. Behavioral therapies and medications have not specifically been tested for treatment of addiction to these products. Health care providers should screen patients for possible co-occurring mental health conditions.

An overdose occurs when a person uses too much of a drug and has a dangerous reaction that in serious, harmful symptoms or death. Use of synthetic cannabinoids can cause:. Deaths can also occur when dangerous synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, are added to the packaged mixture without the user knowing it.

Synthetic cannabinoids

This publication is available for your use and may be reproduced in its entirety without permission from NIDA. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Drug Topics.

More Drug Topics. About NIDA. What are synthetic cannabinoids?

False Advertising Synthetic cannabinoid products are often labeled "not for human consumption. Points to Remember Synthetic cannabinoids refer to a growing of human-made mind-altering chemicals sprayed on dried, shredded plant material or vaporized to produce a high.

United states drug enforcement administration

Synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes misleadingly called synthetic marijuana or fake weed because they act on the same brain cell receptors as THC, the mind-altering ingredient in marijuana. The effects of synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable and severe or even life-threatening. The only parts of synthetic cannabinoid products that are natural are the dried plant materials. Chemical tests show that their active ingredients are human-made cannabinoid compounds.

Synthetic cannabinoid users report some effects similar to those produced by marijuana: elevated mood relaxation altered perception symptoms of psychosis Synthetic cannabinoids can also cause serious mental and physical health problems including: rapid heart rate vomiting violent behavior suicidal thoughts Synthetic cannabinoids can be addictive.

Overdoses can occur and can cause: toxic reactions raised blood pressure reduced blood supply to the heart kidney damage seizures Deaths can occur when dangerous synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, are added without the user knowing. June

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In their pure form, synthetic cannabinoids are either solids or oils.
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This content has not been reviewed within the past year and may not represent WebMD's most up-to-date information.
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The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
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They were originally deed to mimic the effects of the active ingredient in cannabis tetrahydrocannabinol THC which gives the feeling of being stoned.
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