What are the differences between synthetic and real marijuana?

It hasn’t been very long ago that different types of synthetic marijuana began to make their way into gas stations, head shops and other similar retailers. It goes by names that number in hundreds, such as Spice, K-2, Bliss, Skunk, JWH-018, Moon Rocks, Yucatan Fire and Blaze.

The symptoms of synthetic pot are numerous, unlike real marijuana. Synthetic marijuana can cause hallucinations, vomiting, agitation, seizures, chest pain, brain damage and stroke. It even causes death. Researchers are finally beginning to understand more about this drug. They have determined that the synthetic variant of marijuana is not the same thing as regular pot. In fact, the way that synthetic cannabis affects the brain can cause death.

When regular marijuana affects the brain, it’s because of its active ingredient known as THC. This activates a cannabinoid receptor in the brain, but only partially. The THC in synthetic pot activates the same receptor, but it does it completely. One medical toxicologist and emergency room doctor said that synthetic marijuana “is NOT marijuana. Its action in the brain may be similar but the physical effect is so different.”

The potency of synthetic marijuana is also a problem — it can be up to 100 times or more potent than regular pot. However, the clearest proof that synthetic pot is completely different from regular pot is that someone suffering from an overdose of either kind will experience different effects. The one on the regular pot will likely seem mellow, interactive and funny. With synthetic marijuana, someone overdosing will be agitated, sweaty and angry.

Much of the synthetic pot is made in China in underground labs. There’s no quality control in use. Just as one type of synthetic marijuana is banned, another becomes available that has one different, but small, component changed.

Synthetic marijuana is banned in every state. However, the FDA is slow catching up with the issues caused by the drug. In July 2012, the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act became law. This added some types of synthetic pot and cathinones to the federal controlled substance act.

For those who have been charged with the possession of synthetic marijuana or another crime involving it, a strong defense is needed. Due to the current disparities in laws, an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney may help mitigate the penalties.

Source: Forbes, “Why Synthetic Marijuana Is More Toxic To The Brain Than Pot,” Alice G. Walton, accessed June 03, 2015