“Fake weed”, also called “K2” or “Spice” among countless brand and street names all refer to synthetic cannabis, a class of man-made drugs with similar effects to naturally-derived cannabis. These products are available in liquid form for vaping as well as in plant material spray-coated with the active ingredients.1,2
There is a lot of misinformation regarding synthetic cannabis’s safety and legality, which may potentially make it more dangerous in typical use cases. Below we’ll look into why fake weed is neither safer nor legal. You can get in touch with Dallas Drug Treatment Centers to learn more about treatment options for synthetic cannabis and other widely misused substances.
Why is it More Dangerous Than Natural Cannabis?
While synthetic cannabis acts on the body in a way very similar to natural cannabis, the way it’s typically made, sold, and consumed can make it much risker to use.3,4,5 Reasons to completely avoid synthetic cannabis products include the following:1,3,4,5,6,7,8,9
- Potentially dangerous doses. Synthetic cannabis products tend to have cannabinoid concentrations far higher than would be typical in an equivalent natural cannabis product.4,5 This can cause far more intense effects than one might expect, potentially putting the user at greater risk from accidents or toxicity.1,3,4,5
- Elevated toxicity and overdose risks. While toxicity and overdoses are not unknown with organic cannabis, the risks tend to be low, all things considered.4,5 Because of the high doses of cannabinoids in most synthetic cannabis products, the toxicity and overdose risks of those products are typically far greater. Psychosis, paranoia, and vomiting are typical signs of toxicity to these drugs.1,3,4,5
- Lack of quality control. The manufacture of so-called fake weed and synthetic cannabis vapes is largely underground, which often means that consumers of these products could be consuming virtually anything. These products may be “cut” or adulterated with all kinds of cheaper products, ranging from relatively inert chemicals to harmful psychoactive substances like fentanyl or PCP. While this doesn’t always happen, there is always a very real risk of consuming substances far more harmful than expected.1,2
- Poses a known danger to developing brains. The use of either synthetic or natural cannabis has been linked to slowed brain developmentin younger people. Young people exposed to cannabinoids may experience a stunting of their brain, effectively keeping it from becoming fully developed.3,6,7,8,9 The use of both organic and synthetic cannabis by young people has been linked to a decrease in cognitive ability compared to peers of the same age.3,6,7 Additionally, similar risks may be present in children of mothers that consumed these products in pregnancy.8
- The long-term effects are still unknown. Because synthetic cannabis is relatively new, it’s still impossible to say what the long-term effects of these drugs might be, especially in the ever-growing dosages that people typically take them. While we may surmise that the long-term risks are similar to those of cannabis, we still don’t know for sure, as synthetic cannabinoids are completely different from the more studied natural cannabinoids found in marijuana.4,5,9
Is Fake Weed Legal?
If someone selling you fake weed tells you it’s legal, chances are that it isn’t.1,2 Though they may have been legal decades ago, state and federal legislation and guidelines introduced at the beginning of the 2010s have largely made synthetic cannabis a controlled substance. In any case, legality will not detract from the very real risks outlined above.
Get Help for Fake Weed/K2/Spice in North Texas
Synthetic cannabinoids can be habit-forming and may cause psychiatric issues or worsen preexisting ones.3,4,5,6,7,8,9 If you’re in North Texas, you can call Dallas Drug Treatment Centers +1(214) 935-2287 to discuss treatment options for synthetic cannabis in and around the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, February 5). Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2/Spice) DrugFacts.
- S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2020). 2019 National Drug Threat Assessment.
- Alexandre, J., Carmo, H., Carvalho, F., & Silva, J. P. (2020). Synthetic cannabinoids and their impact on neurodevelopmental processes. Addiction Biology, 25(2), e12824.
- Loeffler, G., Delaney, E., & Hann, M. (2016). International trends in spice use: prevalence, motivation for use, relationship to other substances, and perception of use and safety for synthetic cannabinoids. Brain research bulletin, 126, 8-28.
- Clayton, H. B., Lowry, R., Ashley, C., Wolkin, A., & Grant, A. M. (2017). Health risk behaviors with synthetic cannabinoids versus marijuana. Pediatrics, 139(4).
- Jacobus, J., & Tapert, S. F. (2014). Effects of cannabis on the adolescent brain. Current pharmaceutical design, 20(13), 2186–2193. https://doi.org/10.2174/13816128113199990426
- Basavarajappa, B. S., & Subbanna, S. (2019). Potential mechanisms underlying the deleterious effects of synthetic cannabinoids found in spice/K2 products. Brain sciences, 9(1), 14.
- Orsolini, L., Papanti, D., Corkery, J., De Luca, M. A., Cadoni, C., Di Chiara, G., & Schifano, F. (2017). Is there a Teratogenicity Risk Associated with Cannabis and Synthetic Cannabimimetics’(‘Spice’) Intake?. CNS & Neurological Disorders-Drug Targets (Formerly Current Drug Targets-CNS & Neurological Disorders), 16(5), 585-591.
- Seely, K. A., Lapoint, J., Moran, J. H., & Fattore, L. (2012). Spice drugs are more than harmless herbal blends: a review of the pharmacology and toxicology of synthetic cannabinoids. Progress in Neuro-psychopharmacology and biological psychiatry, 39(2), 234-243.