Spice drug, or “Spice,” refers to several different herbal mixture products that are supposed to produce effects similar to marijuana when smoked or ingested. In states where marijuana has not been legalized for recreational or medicinal use, these products are often marketed as “safe” alternatives to marijuana. Chemical constituents are usually sprayed or injected into dried leaves (or substances that look like leaves).
Spice is also called by many other names, including:
- Synthetic marijuana or synthetic cannabis
- Fake weed
- Yucatan Fire
- Moon Rocks
- Incense or Potpourri
The chemicals used in Spice and other synthetic drug products can be very addictive and also very harmful. The consumer often doesn’t know exactly what is in the product. Due to this, Spice has been banned under federal and state laws.
Is Synthetic Marijuana Safe to Use?
Spice, a synthetic cannabis product, is linked to serious health issues, including breathing difficulties and psychotic episodes. These drugs are still in high demand despite well-known issues, and homeless people, in particular, are at risk of mental health issues. What exactly are these drugs made of, and why do they cause such violent reactions?
Spice is a mixture of laboratory-made chemicals that mimic the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis. Researchers have found that Spice and other synthetic cannabis products can produce much more intense and prolonged effects at much lower doses than natural cannabis. Natural cannabis only partially reacts with the body, while synthetic cannabis reacts far more fully.
The biology behind the intense reaction to Spice can be explained by understanding the cannabinoid receptors in the body and the chemical properties of the “agonist” in the drug.
While THC is a “partial agonist” (it only reacts partially with cannabinoid receptors), synthetic cannabis is often a “full agonist.” Consequently, synthetic cannabis has more adverse effects due to its ability to saturate and activate all of the body’s cannabinoid receptors at lower doses.
In general, synthetic marijuana is considered to be much more dangerous than marijuana.
Chemicals used in such substances are inconsistent and can be difficult to regulate. It is generally impossible for consumers to determine exactly what chemicals are being used or in what amounts.
There are several very dangerous side effects associated with synthetic marijuana use, including:
- Panic and severe anxiety; paranoia
- Hallucinating or suicidal thoughts
- Seizures and muscular spasms/convulsions
The effects of some synthetic marijuana products can be similar to those of bath salts and other synthetic drugs. As a result, some states have banned synthetic marijuana products for personal use and sale.
What Is the Origin of Spice?
The first synthetic cannabinoid, which reacts with the body like cannabis, was discovered on the recreational drug market in 2008. Originally developed by John Huffman of Clemson University in the US, JWH-018 was sold under the brand name Spice.
Through simple chemical reactions using legal substances, aminoalkylindoles – the most common subfamily of synthetic cannabinoids – are produced in kilogram quantities.
Chemical companies based in China produce these substances on a large scale and ship them, as bulk powders, to Europe. In Europe, synthetic cannabinoids are mixed with (or sprayed onto) plant material using solvents such as acetone or methanol to dissolve the powders. Afterward, the mixture is dried, packaged, and sold as incense or smoking mixtures.
Many countries now consider JWH-018 a controlled substance under narcotics legislation. Next-generation synthetic cannabinoids – now colloquially referred to as Spice or Mamba – continue to be the most prevalent new psychoactive substances (NPS).
A total of 14 different sub-families of cannabinoid agonists have been identified – indicating that hundreds of these types of substances circulate via the internet and often cross borders.
What Are the Dangers of Spice?
Various side effects of spice drugs include vomiting, nausea, paranoia, anxiety, blood pressure problems, hallucinations, and heart attacks. Spice users often experience withdrawal and addiction symptoms.
Different brands of smoking mixtures can have wildly different effects. Still, the effectiveness of one brand may depend more on its ratio of cannabinoids to chemically inactive plant materials than on its chemical structure. A mixture’s specific chemical type is less important than how much chemical there is relative to what has been used to provide bulk.
Because synthetic cannabinoids are highly potent, the amount needed for each “hit” can be as little as a few tens of milligrams. Clockwork Orange, Pandora’s Box, and Annihilation are among the more potent brands that can be quite intoxicating.
Some people experience breathing difficulties, rapid heart rate, shakes, and sweats, all of which can trigger a severe panic attack. Balance and coordination can be severely affected by higher doses. The user may lose feeling in their limbs and feel numb, experience nausea, collapse, or become unconscious.
Spice’s main problem is that users don’t know exactly what chemicals are used and what goes into the product. Users may experience unpredictable effects and end up in the hospital or at a poison control center. Suicides linked to synthetic drugs have also been reported.
Synthetic cannabinoids can cause psychotic episodes, which may last for weeks in extreme cases and exacerbate existing mental illnesses. However, prisoners and homeless people tend to be most likely to report severe mental health issues, addictions, and acts of violence due to regular use. These groups are much more likely to report high rates of drug dependency, self-define as having addictive personalities and disclose a range of diagnosed mental-health issues, including “dual diagnosis” (drug dependence and at least one mental-health disorder, or at least two personality or psychotic disorders) and existing offenses for violence.
Due to their substantial risks, many countries have already outlawed the production, possession, and distribution of synthetic cannabinoids.
Due to the rapidly changing nature of the recreational drug market and the lack of globalized drug-control legislation, the “war on drugs” is unlikely to relent. Scientists, medical professionals, and legislators must work together to stem the flow of these dangerous compounds before they pose a serious threat to vulnerable groups.
Are There Any Criminal Laws Involving Spice Drugs?
Due to its low medical use and risk of abuse and injury, Spice drugs and other synthetic drugs have been classified as controlled substances under federal laws. Possession of spice drugs and other synthetic substances is permitted in some states but prohibited in others. Spice possession can result in misdemeanor charges or jail time of up to one year.
Manufacturing, distributing, or selling Spice may result in more serious charges. It is possible to receive felony sentences of over one year and high monetary fines for these offenses. State laws may differ when it comes to Spice and other similar drugs. The facts of each case can determine what defenses apply to Spice drug charges.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Spice Drug Laws?
As a result of their dangerous and often harmful nature, spice drugs are highly regulated. You may need to hire a drug lawyer in your area if you need help with any drug charges or criminal law issues.
Your attorney can provide legal assistance and legal research. Moreover, your lawyer can also represent you if you need to attend court for trial or other meetings. Use LegalMatch to find the right drug lawyer for your needs today.