Synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as Spice or K2, can be a convenient and legal alternative to genuine marijuana products. But what exactly is synthetic marijuana? How’s it made? How’s it different from regular marijuana?
What Is Synthetic Marijuana?
Though common, synthetic marijuana is actually a misleading term as references a class of cannabinoid receptor agonists or synthetic cannabinoids. The term marijuana describes the dried flower buds of the actual plant which derives its psychoactive high naturally from THC. Synthetic cannabinoids, or fake weed, describes the action on cannabis receptors within your brain. Fake weed, by the essence of its definition, is merely a man-made chemical created with the intent to mimic the action true marijuana has on central nervous system receptors in the brain.
How’s It Made?
Fake weed such as K2 and Spice is made from man-made chemicals that bear little chemical resemblance to the THC and CBD found in the cannabis plant. These chemicals are sprayed onto to mimic the look of marijuana, such as dried tobacco leaves or catnip. Due to the large inconsistency of which chemicals are used in fake weed, there is little leverage to govern its use, making it appealing to areas with governmental restrictions on marijuana. Fake weed is commonly manufactured by partiers who live in restricted use areas and research scientists who wish to study the endocannabinoid system.
How’s It Different?
Marijuana containing TCH and CBD grows naturally in the wild and, more recently, in grow facilities. Fake weed is manufactured in laboratories, professional or otherwise, and contains no chemicals known in nature. Though both trigger the same cannabinoid receptors in your brain, they do not act on these receptors the same.
Since the early 2000’s there have been numerous reports of the negative effects of fake weed. In 2016, the New York Times reported over 130 synthetic weed overdoses during a three-day period in New York City. THC is like a perfect fitting key that slides into a cannabinoid receptor, unlocks the door, and slips back out smoothly. Synthetic chemicals are more easily compared to opening that cannabinoid receptor door with a shotgun. Sure, it still opens the door, but the potential for damage may not be worth it.
Already, safer forms of the drug are being created, such as Marinol which is designed similarly to THC for use in treating nausea and loss of appetite in cancer patients, making the potential of safe man-made medical drugs is a very real possibility.