Synthetic weed products are a significant health and public safety concern, according to new research by the CDC. As discovered by the researchers, a number of teens all across the country are showing up in emergency rooms, with disturbing and serious symptoms.
What Is Synthetic Weed?
Synthetic weed usually consists of a variety of dried herbs, which are prepared in a manner that makes them resemble marijuana. They are typically branded and marketed in a way that implies that they will elicit marijuana-like effects in the user. You may have seen these products for sale in head shops or gas stations. Although if you live in a state with legal cannabis, chances are you won’t see it very often – it is a class of products primarily sold in states in which cannabis is still illegal.
How Does Synthetic Weed Work?
Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to explain why synthetic weeds produce the physiological effects they do, because the manufacturers change their formulas regularly to stay ahead of the law. For example, a recipe may start out by using dried plants A, B and C; but after plant C becomes illegal, they’ll change the formula to one that contains plants A, B and D. A few weeks or months later, they’ll adjust the formula again if need be. This not only makes it difficult for researchers to study the drug, it makes it difficult for users to know how their body will react and how much they should use at a time.
What Is Happening to Kids Who Use Synthetic Weed?
Some of the synthetic weed products teens and young adults are using have led to some particularly frightening consequences. Many users experience a rapid pulse, chest pains, difficulty breathing, nausea, confusion and hallucinations. Some even suffer from recurrent, violent seizures.
But some users suffer even more severe symptoms. A handful of users have shown up in emergency rooms without the ability to breathe at all. These patients eventually need intubation and often-extended hospital stays. Other patients have suffered strokes, permanent heart damage, liver failure or psychosis. A few patients have died from an overdose of these products, while others have reacted violently, and either killed themselves or become involved in violent altercations which led to their death.
Most commonly, the users who show up in emergency rooms become extremely agitated. They are often uncooperative with the hospital staff, and frequently require chemical sedation or physical restraint.
What Is the Best Way to Combat the Problem?
Educating the public about the dangers of these products is a good first step, but also, some of the resources currently allocated to prosecuting small-scale marijuana offenses could be better directed at preventing these dangerous products into stores across the country. If cannabis were legalized nationwide, adults would have no need for these products. While youngsters – who cannot purchase cannabis until the age of 21 – would still represent a viable market, the reallocation of resources would help reduce the prevalence of underage use of synthetic weed too.
This is intended solely for those with legal access to cannabis and cannabis-derived products. Always follow your local laws and regulations.