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  • Writer's pictureRandy Shaffer

Synthetic Marijuana, America's Serial Killer

Updated: Aug 29, 2018

There is a killer among us, hiding almost in plain sight. This killer manipulates its victims. It cheats. It lies to you. This killer does not care about you. It does not discriminate who its victims are. Sometimes, it will spare you. Other times, it will grab hold and never let you go. And every so often, it kills. No judgment. No regrets. This serial killer is prominent in the United States, but it has traveled the world, taking lives wherever it goes.

This serial killer is known as synthetic marijuana.

A Deadly Experience

I was on vacation in Myrtle Beach several years ago when I first heard about Spice and K2, the synthetic form of marijuana. I had stopped into a small head shop to admire the locally-blown glass they had on display. While I was looking, a clerk approached me and we struck up a brief conversation. It was here where he offered me K2. At the time, synthetic marijuana had not been widely banned, and little was known about it, so every word he said was news to me.

"It's just like the real thing," the head shop clerk proclaimed as he handed me a tiny translucent silver bag filled with plant material that looked like potpourri. "It smokes better, smells nice and tastes pretty good," he stated. "It's cheap, too!"

But did K2 have any medicinal benefits? After all, cannabis is well known to help patients suffering from all kinds of medical conditions, from chronic pain to IBS and cancer. And at that point in time, medical marijuana was already legal in a half-dozen states. Could synthetic marijuana do the same? Was this the legal alternative I had been seeking for so many years?

Curiosity caught me and I bought a bag for $10. I waited until I got back to Ohio before I tried the synthetic drug. One fateful evening, I placed some of the plant material in a bowl and lit up. What happened after that first hit was akin to a nightmare.

K2 did initially produce a similar reaction to cannabis, yielding something of a mild to intense psychoactive buzz, but this feeling of relief was only momentary. What followed was a severe anxiety akin to a full bore panic attack, followed by crushing waves of chest pains, a violent headache, and an incurable hunger that led me consume half of my snack cabinet, a total of roughly 5-6000 calories -- all in one painful sitting.

The feeling didn't end quickly, either. My panic continued for nearly 12 hours. I couldn't sleep. My mouth and eyes were dry, as if the K2 was absorbing every speck, every drop of water that existed in my body. My skin itched. Nothing seemed to help, either. The entirety of my being felt like it was imploding inward, spiraling disastrously out of balance.

Real Reefer Madness

K2, as it turned out, was NOT a good alternative to marijuana! Rather, synthetic marijuana is the evil opposite of cannabis, pretending to be a legal, "safe" alternative, and offering nothing in return but anxiety, pain, or even death.

Synthetic marijuana is a designer drug, manufactured in a lab (or someone's basement) and sprayed (often in uneven consistency) on plant material, usually an herbal blend of flowers traditionally used for potpourri or incense. Synthetic marijuana binds with the bodies' cannabinoid receptors, not unlike THC and CBD, the active compounds of traditional marijuana. Because the spray is uneven and unnatural, there are sometimes "hot spots" where the drug is more concentrated than other areas, leading to a powerful high that can become too intense in mere moments.

Because synthetic marijuana is designed rather than grown, and chemical makeup can be inorganic at best, the body can have severe reactions as a result of ingestion, not unlike bath salts or meth. Users can become aggressive, suffer anxiety attacks, seizures, suicidal ideation, bouts of insomnia, or the drug may even render users "zombie-like."

In lesser words, synthetic marijuana was everything the old anti-pot propaganda like Reefer Madness wanted you to believe about weed. Though marijuana has never killed anyone, synthetic marijuana is habit forming, deadly and offers zero medicinal benefits. It's a chemical mixture not designed for human consumption, and can often be cut with toxic poisons, like brodifacoum (rat poison), to increase the psychoactive effects.

In the years since K2's inception, many states have sought to outlaw the synthetic marijuana. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Food and Drug Administration have each released stern warnings, advising that consumers avoid all forms of the synthetic designer drug.

But manufacturers continually alter synthetic marijuana to keep it semi-legal. As a result, the drug keeps getting more dangerous to use, and the plague of fake weed continues to rage on, growing more deadly with each passing month.

The Safe Alternative

So, how can the sales of synthetic marijuana be combated? The simple and easy solution to this crisis is to legalize marijuana, be it medical or recreational. A lawyer-friend once told me, "If common people are willing to break the law so frivolously and so regularly like they do when they use cannabis, the law should no longer be a law." If consumers have access to a safer, better alternative like cannabis, they are likely to think twice before striking up a bowl filled with illicit synthetic concoctions.

After all, most people who use drugs like K2 and Spice have a story similar to mine -- they simply crave the healthy relief and organic euphoric state that comes from ingesting marijuana. Since marijuana is still illegal under Federal law, many consumers worried about being arrested or punished turn to other options like fake marijuana, which result in tragic overdoses and fatalities rather than the relief originally sought.

Thankfully, many states have legalized medical marijuana, including Ohio who has legalized cannabis for use to treat 21 qualifying medical conditions. With medical marijuana more readily available, and some states even legalizing recreational cannabis, it's likely that sales of K2, Spice and other synthetic marijuana derivatives will eventually slow.

But until that day happens, it is best to avoid all forms of synthetic marijuana, no matter how in need you may be. This is one drug that truly will ruin your life.

To find out how you can get a medical marijuana card in Ohio, please call us at 1-866-457-5559, or visit Ohio Marijuana Card's How to Qualify page to learn more.


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