Synthetic cannabinoids are manmade chemicals that some use as an alternative to marijuana.
Synthetic cannabinoids are often called “Spice,” “K2,” and “synthetic marijuana.” These chemicals are similar in some ways to the natural cannabinoids found in marijuana, but they are created by humans in labs. They are designed to be mind-altering and psychoactive. Depending on the specific product, they can either be smoked, or vaporized in an e-cigarette or vape device.
Although synthetic cannabinoids are often marketed as safe and legal alternatives to marijuana, they are actually not safe at all. There are many aspects of these cannabinoids that pose serious concerns to the public. For starters, they are unregulated substances with unpredictable effects. Keep reading to learn more.
Are synthetic cannabinoids safe?
Synthetic cannabinoids are potentially very dangerous substances. These man-made chemicals are unpredictable and may affect the brain more powerfully than marijuana. They have many negative side effects, and some of those effects can potentially be life-threatening.
A recent publication in Behavioral Neuroscience by Tai and Fantegrossi 2017 discussed the toxicology profile and increased toxicity of synthetic cannabinoids: "Commercial SCB (synthetic cannabinoids) products are not safe alternatives to cannabis and pose significant threats to public health. It is anticipated that morbidity and mortality rates will continue to increase in correlation to
SCB exposure.” (1)
The researchers go on to discuss how recent reports have found that synthetic cannabinoids have a very different pharmacological and toxicological profile from THC in marijuana. As an example, these synthetic cannabinoids interact directly with both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body, while THC does not exert the same control over the receptors. This more potent interaction may lead to more intense and dangerous psychoactive side effects.
These findings show that synthetic cannabinoids are not safe and should not be used as an alternative form of marijuana. They produce more toxicity than marijuana, and should therefore be considered a significant health risk.
Side Effects of Synthetic Cannabinoids
As we mentioned, synthetic cannabinoid products can be very toxic. People who smoke or vape synthetic cannabinoids may experience many negative side effects. The CDC states that many experience rapid heart rate, agitation, confusion, vomiting, and hallucinations. Many have had to seek emergency medical care after smoking these “fake cannabinoids.”
Because they are man-made and not natural cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, synthetic cannabinoids do pose serious risks. The side effects are also very unpredictable because synthetic cannabinoids are man-made and unregulated substances. This lack of regulation can lead to dangerous side effects in addition to mislabeled and misleading products.
Ultimately, it’s very important to avoid any products containing synthetic cannabinoids. Using natural cannabis products like THC and CBD is a much safer and more beneficial option. Always ensure you purchase cannabis products from trusted and reputable sources and speak with your medical provider if you have any questions or concerns.
References: 1. Tai, Sherrica, and William E Fantegrossi. “Pharmacological and Toxicological Effects of Synthetic Cannabinoids and Their Metabolites.” Current topics in behavioral
neurosciences vol. 32 (2017): 249-262. doi:10.1007/7854_2016_60