Posts Tagged synthetic marijuana
If you are still skeptical about the risks of synthetic drug abuse, then this bit of news might make you think twice.
In November of last year, the family of Kurtis Hildreth found the 18-year-old dead inside his bedroom with a partially lit pipe containing the illicit drug Spice and a lighter nearby. According the Alaska Dispatch, the medical examiner’s office declared the cause of death as “undetermined”, much to the frustration and anger of Hildreth’s family.
Hildreth lived with his aunt, Kerri Stevens, when the incident happened. “The pipe was right there by his feet. He was a healthy kid. The lighter was right there. The pipe was right there. He never had any kind of heart problems or seizures,” said Stevens. The teenager was supposed to tour around Alaska and be presented a job offer in a commercial glass company run by his aunt’s family. With the teen’s death, the plans were all for naught.
Alaska plays host to a number of designer drugs readily available in smoke shops. These synthetic marijuana versions are packed in attractive packets, such as the brand “Mr. Nice Guy” with a dead smiley face at the front of the packaging. This particular brand was the one found in Hildreth’s bedroom where he was found lifeless.
Brandon Jenkins, the victim’s best friend, was able to talk with Hildreth moments before the teenager sniffed the controversial drug. “Life will lead you in better directions than this stuff will. Life has many opportunities, and death only has one,” Jenkins added.
It isn’t surprising how synthetic marijuana managed to become a popular drug of choice among the youth today. In addition to being easily accessible, not all states in the country have adopted laws that ban the distribution and possession of synthetic drugs. And even though health experts have consistently reminded people of the dangers associated with synthetic marijuana use, many still refuse to heed the advice.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, found that synthetic marijuana use may cause acute kidney damage.
A total of 16 people, aged 15-33, visited emergency departments with the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, and abdominal or back pain. The reported cases came from Wyoming (4), Oregon (6), New York (2), Oklahoma (2), Rhode Island (1), and Kansas (1). All patients were subsequently hospitalized, five required hemodialysis — a treatment to remove waste products from the blood — and four patients received corticosteroids.
According to the report, none of the patients had preexisting renal dysfunction or use of medication that might have caused renal problems, but toxicology analysis indicated they had all used synthetic cannabinoid products.
Emerging in the U.S. in 2009, synthetic marijuana is marketed in various names, including “K2” and “Spice.” They are packaged in colorful wrappers to entice teens, young adults, and first-time drug users. Although the products are often labeled “not for human consumption” or “incense,” health professionals and legal authorities are keenly aware that these products are smoked like marijuana. So far, more than 40 U.S. states have legislatively banned synthetic cannabinoids.
Here’s something that K2 or Spice consumers should know about — exposure to synthetic cannabis can lead to serious psychological problems.
Professor John Huffman, originally an organic chemist from the Clemson University who created the JWH 018 – the stimulant that has the same effects as the active ingredient in cannabis called THC – says that products containing “fake pot” are dangerous. They can cause psychological problems which may all be irreversible.
“Do not use these products,” says Professor Huffman who resides in South California, according to a feature on NZ Herald. Though he is the inventor of the popular substance, he only has one advice to people who are fond of using it, and that is to stop now before everything is too late.
In the US, products such as K2 and Spice have become a lucrative business for producers who are into large scale manufacturing of the substances. They have been warned about the dangers of their merchandise, yet they do not listen at all for as long as they are making a lot of money at the expense of cannabis users.
A toxicologist from the Dunedin-based National Poisons Center, Dr. Leo Schep, supports Professor Huffman’s warnings, and says if there is anyone in the world who knows fake pot best, it’s Huffman.
In most emergency cases related to cannabinoids, immediate symptoms of patients include anxiety, increased blood pressure levels and heart rates, and even seizures. Long-term effects are currently being established, but as early as now, they are pointing towards the road to self-destruction.
Despite efforts of authorities to ban K2, it’s still making its way to teens via legitimate stores and markets. According to Bridge to Awareness Counseling Center manager Ray Moore, K2 is being sold legally as incense.
In a feature from Chieftain.com, users of K2 experience the same high as they do when using pot, but they often manifest irritability, aggressiveness and agitation when high or when effects of the drug starts to clear in their system. Yet teens still use this synthetic marijuana due to its difficulty of being detected in drug testing procedures.
Chris Leeman, a counselor, says he has first-hand experience with K2 users. He says 50 to 60% of kids are using K2 to either get away from drug confirmatory tests or just when nothing else is around to give them the high that pot brings. He has observed dangerous behaviors due to K2 use, though, such as “becoming aggressive, irritable, anxious and sometimes suicidal.”
Parents need to know that K2 or spice is readily sold to kids in retail and often perceived as less dangerous than marijuana and other illicit drugs. The Drug Enforcement Administration has banned K2 products last fall, but imitators were fast to replace it with other compounds that give the same effects. Although most of them are supposed to be sold to individuals 18 years old and above, some local outlets and convenience stores are not following laws for financial gains.
Virginia is taking its stand against synthetic marijuana. The Senate passed a bill against it with a vote of 37-0 last Friday. The House of Delegates voted 98-0 last Monday to prohibit its possession and sale.
The substance, more widely known as Spice or K2, is intended to simulate the effects of pot, but it has been linked to side effects such as seizure, comatose, and hallucinations. It consists of dried herbs sprayed with psychoactive chemicals and it is being marketed as “herbal incense” in head shops, tobacco shops, convenience stores, and gas stations.
If approved and signed into law by the governor, the bill in the Senate or the one in the House of Delegates would make the purchase, possession and sale of the substance illegal by July 1st. The Senate’s bill would treat synthetic marijuana similar to the real thing and has stronger penalties.
Under the Senate’s bill, considered a Class 1 misdemeanor would be possession and possession with intent to distribute less than a half ounce. Manufacturing and possession with intent to distribute more than a half ounce would be a felony. The House bill would consider synthetic marijuana under the classification Schedule 1 controlled substance, along with marijuana and heroin.
Lawmakers have a new target, and that is synthetic marijuana. Commonly sold by different names such as Spice and K2, synthetic marijuana may be considered illegal after Indiana’s Senate Bill No. 57 gets the signature of Gov. Mitch Daniels. Many are saying that would happen as early as April this year.
Under Senate Bill No. 57, possession or selling Spice-related products would be equivalent to possession or selling marijuana. The primary bill author is Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, who said “wherever marijuana is listed, we put this (synthetic marijuana) right next to it.”
Just a few days ago, the bill was unanimously passed in the Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters. State Sen. Patricia Miller, R. Ind., one of the authors of the bill, thinks it will have no trouble passing in the Senate.
Last August, the sale of synthetic marijuana in Morgan County has been banned by virtue of a county ordinance. However, since the ban is not statewide, offenders cannot be brought to jail or issued a criminal record for violations. Also, the law says it is illegal to market, deliver and manufacture in Morgan County, making the ban limited and directed more towards sellers than users. A fine has been set for violators, though, which is currently at a maximum of $2,500 for the first offense and $7,500 for subsequent offenses.