Don’t Fake and Bake: Why Synthetic Cannabis is More Toxic Than the Real Thing


If you’ve pondered trying K2 spice, the synthetic cannabinoids that are quickly gaining popularity as the easier to get and cheaper substitutes for traditional herb, you may want to think twice. Though consuming K2 may seem like an easy way to get legally high, the reality is, there are synthetic marijuana dangers that could make consuming this substance outright deadly.

After two deaths and dozens of patients appearing in ERs with serious unexplained bleeding, the CDC recently issued a warning about K2 or “fake” weed, citing the life-threatening symptoms synthetic marijuana dangers.

Before you vape that bag of gas station K2 spice, read on for the lowdown on why synthetic cannabis can be toxic to your health, and even cost you your life.

What is K2 Spice?

K2, also known as fake weed or spice is a synthetic cannabinoid made of plant material coated in hundreds of manufactured chemicals, which are sprayed on dried, shredded plant material to be smoked or sold as liquids that can be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes or similar devices.

NIH classifies K2 spice as part of a group of drugs called new psychoactive substances (NPS), which are unregulated mind-altering substances that have become newly available on the market and are intended to produce the same effects as illegal drugs. Though synthetic weed labels often claim that this laboratory-made product contains “natural” material, in most cases, the only parts of these products that are natural are the dried plant materials which ironically are labeled “not for human consumption.”

Synthetic Marijuana Dangers

So, what makes K2 spice so dangerous? Basically, rat poison. As reported by CNN, the rat poison agent brodifacoum in K2 acts like a blood thinner and can induce the same symptoms as hemophilia, such as nosebleeds, bloody stools, heavy menstrual bleeding, just to name a few.

“There’s a huge number of toxic effects of synthetic cannabinoids,” explained Professor Paul L. Prather of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Arkansas’ College of Medicine to CNN. Aside from neurological side effects that include psychosis, panic attacks, agitation, confusion and catatonia, K2 can also damage kidney function. “Young patients will come in with acute renal or kidney failure,” Prather continued.

What Does K2 Do to Your Brain?

Another concerning danger of synthetic weed, often packaged under the names Yucatan Fire, or Black Mamba, is its impact on brain function – which can lead to hallucinations, delusions and even violent behavior.

According to a recent Forbes article, one reason that K2 spice may trigger everything from seizures to psychosis is how synthetic cannabis binds the CB1 receptor, similar to THC in marijuana. However, that’s pretty much where the similarities between pot and fake weed ends. Unlike THC in cannabis, some of the chemicals found in synthetic weed attach to those receptors more strongly, which could lead to a much more potent and unpredictable effect.

Another possibility why K2 spice may have adverse effects on the brain is because the chemical composition of many synthetic cannabinoid products is unknown and may change from batch to batch, making them likely to contain substances that cause dramatically different effects than the user might expect. Synthetic cannabis is made in underground labs, without any quality control in the formulation process, meaning there’s no telling what you’re getting in a bag of K2 spice.

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