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Synthetic Marijuana Sent 11,000 People to Emergency Rooms in 2010


More than 11,000 people ended up in emergency rooms after using synthetic marijuana in 2010, according to a new government report. Most were teenagers and young adults, USA Today reports.

Synthetic marijuana, commonly known as K2 or Spice, is a mixture of herbs, spices or shredded plant material that is typically sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. K2 is typically sold in small, silvery plastic bags of dried leaves and marketed as incense that can be smoked. It is said to resemble potpourri.

Short term effects include loss of control, lack of pain response, increased agitation, pale skin, seizures, vomiting, profuse sweating, uncontrolled spastic body movements, elevated blood pressure, heart rate and palpitations. In addition to physical signs of use, users may experience severe paranoia, delusions, hallucinations and increased agitation.

The new report, from the federal government’s Drug Abuse Warning Network, is the first to analyze the impact of synthetic marijuana, the newspaper notes. The report found 12-to-17-year-olds accounted for one-third of the emergency room visits, while young adults ages 18 to 24 accounted for an additional 35 percent.

Among patients ages 12 to 29, the report found 59 percent of those who paid visits to the emergency room for synthetic marijuana use had no evidence of other substances.

In 2010, marijuana sent 461,028 people to the emergency room.

In July, President Obama signed legislation that bans synthetic drugs. The law bans harmful chemicals in synthetic drugs such as those used to make synthetic marijuana and bath salts.

11 Responses to this article

  1. Elyse / May 27, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    I started smoking at 19 years old…… 1959 and was always in hiding about it.
    It was the leaves of the plant……….not buds.
    Recently I had buds and it was WAY WAY TOO extreme for me.
    I think the potency should be lowered……..way too strong as far a I am
    concerned. for a young mind and if they can handle it the way it is today.
    I had to stop smoking now, cause it is tooo tooo strong.

    • Diaz / August 7, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      Shouldn’t even consider this drug to just lower the high. Why keep smoking it if even the Doctors can’t seem to figure out what inside the substance is killing people.

  2. Kelly / May 27, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    For real, this is crazy I think people who do it out of their own stupidity shouldn’t have justice really….I mean they did it to themselves and put that in their body knowing what it does and how badly it affects people. They want a good trip that’s all…so it’s their faults not like anyone told them to do it. It wasn’t like that. If they want to get high smoke real marijuana…’s natural, grown out of the earth and isn’t as bad. I won’t say it’s not bad at all bc it has it’s Percs and side effects to it. But if your going to have fun and act stupid just do the real thing don’t waste your life and time on fake/darkness, synthetic whatever you wanna call it. It ain’t worth your time… have one life….live it right and be careful out there people bc dead is forever……

  3. Daniel / May 27, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Things like this would not be happening if the actual “drug” was legal.

  4. Avatar of Thomas_k2
    Thomas_k2 / September 20, 2013 at 12:07 am

    I have been frequently using synthetic cannibinoids (ie. those certain 2.5g packets retailing @ $20-$25 a pop in New Zealand). After five foolish years of heavy use, the cannibinoids used in these “low-risk” controversial products have changed, due to both law and legislative reasons.
    Regardless of the makeup of such products as k2, spice, illusion and my personal favourite ‘Anarchy’ (produced and distributed by various imported and local ingredients; the active chemical likely to have been shipped over in bulk amounts from abroad), I’ve smoked it all.

    Short term effects, including the less-desirable ones may include:
    - altered perception
    - heightened or lowered mood, which I have found to be dependent on the frame of mind beforehand
    - increased appetite (yes, the munchies)
    - feeling of being stoned similar to that of decent-quality marijuana, yet seems to affect the mind more than the body, in terms of the sensation of being ‘blazed’; duration and strength of product seems to depend on dosage size (1 generously-packed cone will last from 45min to 1 hour) and also the duration of which one holds the smoke in the lungs for (same as d9-THC).

    Some not-so-pleasant side-effects, based on personal experience, may include:

    -increased paranoia and/or anxiety
    -increased heart-rate and/or palpitations
    -munchies when I’ve run out of Crispix :(
    -the slow realisation of knowing how much moolah one has spent on the product, particularly if you hoard the empty packaging for a more accurate answer

    The “strongest” and most reliable product variant, in my drug-addled opinion, is the Anarchy, or the ‘Ak-47′, which both contain PB-22. All the other crap can rot on the $10 specials shelf for all I care :)

    Regardless, this is all based on personal experience; of which may vary in individuals.

  5. Avatar of Mac
    Mac / December 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    The cannabinols being sold as synthetic marijuana are NOT synthetic marijuana.They are generally “research chemicals” never intended for human use. These chemicals are not related structurally to THC. Pitching them as “synthetic marijuana” gives the buyer the impression they’re safe.They’re not.

  6. Avatar of Cindy
    Cindy / December 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    I read this article, then read the comments. I will never understand why someone would NOT want the government, or anyone else, to alert the public to a potentially dangerous substance that is being consumed/used. My experience is that neither adults nor youth understand the potentially harmful effects of these drugs. People have a right to know, and then they can make an informed choice. Unfortunately, any article with the word ‘marijuana’ in it inevitably devolves into the tired arguement of “alcohol and tobacco is worse than weed”. Synthetic drugs are unregulated, dangerous substances. That fact is inargueable.

  7. Avatar of Stephen
    Stephen / December 7, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Doug is absolutely right.
    It is mind-boggling that we treat people as worthless if they are found with drugs, drugs that do no harm to anyone other than possibly the user.
    But food from McDonald’s does more harm than any illegal drugs. It really does. However, people should have the right to eat McDonald’s because we humans should have the right to decide what goes into their own bodies. It is no one else’s business.
    Our drug policies are not meant to prevent harm. If this was about preventing harm, we would not allow people to drive cars, drink alcohol, or smoke cigarettes, because those things kill 31,000 people a year, 75,000 people a year, and 450,000 people a year.

    Does this article say how many people died from synthetic marijuana? No. Because it’s meant to scare people. This is deceptive and the writers should be ashamed of themselves.

    Of course, this will most likely be censored. I’ll be sure to contact my representatives if so, because taxpayer money should not be used to censor the taxpayer at this agency, if truth means anything anymore.

  8. Doug / December 4, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    While synthetic cannabinoids represent an alarming trend, reporting these numbers out of context is deceptive and I hope for better comparisons in the future. Here, let me help: Digoxin, warfarin and insulin sent 58,000 Americans to the ER in 2004 and 2005. Motor vehicle crashes sent 3.5 million Americans to the ER in 2008. Hammers and vibrators send thousands of people to the ER every year but our paternalistic government has not outlawed them. Yet. DAWN does not report alcohol numbers, because the emperor is naked. Specifically, DAWN should track alcohol-only cases so that the truth can set us free of this country’s ridiculous distinction between legal drugs (the ones that account for roughly 95% of drug-related deaths in the USA) and illegal drugs (the ones that do relatively little harm compared to alcohol and tobacco). Much of the so-called cost to society of illegal drugs comes from locking up the people who use and sell them. Talk about a circular argument: we lock people up because it costs us a lot of money to lock them up. Someone who smokes marijuana and is then struck by lightning would probably count as a marijuana-related ER visit in our nanny state.

  9. Joshua / December 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    That is exactly the point though, synthetic marijuanna is dangerous, but unregulated so people will use it, natural marijuanna is much less dangerous but highly regulated. the regulation is the cause of the problem here. do you think for a minute that people would ever use spice is marijuanna were legal?

  10. Bobby T / August 12, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    I agree with you 100%. While I understand the issues with drugs and alcohol in our society, I really don’t get why people want to be upset that drugs like synthetic marijuana are being banned. Just because you might feel that one drug is unjustly banned, should not make you feel that all drugs shouldn’t be banned.
    Two wrongs don’t make a right!

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