07 May Synthetic Cannabis – real scary stuff
The purpose of this blog is to increase public awareness to the potentially fatal consequences of the use of synthetic cannabis. I am not advocating the use, sale or distribution of any illegal substance.
What is synthetic cannabis? For millennia, whether legally or illegally, man has been smoking the dried leaves from the Cannabis sativa plant. It has been known as marijuana, weed, cannabis, green, gunja, pot, dope and the list goes on. The chemical that gets people ‘high’ when smoking dope is THC. (delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol). And somewhere in an unnamed laboratory, a scientist has been able to create a synthetic cannabinol. The synthetic cannabinoids are functionally similar to THC. Like THC, they bind to the same cannabinoid receptors in the brain and organs. It is believed that a solution of synthetic cannabis is sprayed on a mixture of herbal products and packaged in small foil sachets. Some of the brand names to be found are Spice, Kronic, Voodoo, Kaos and Mango Kush.
In Australia there is a variety of synthetic cannabis products available for sale on the Internet, at Adult stores and at some tobacconists. The sale of these products was made illegal in NSW in July 2011. Most other states of the Commonwealth have similar legislation in place.
So what is the danger? Synthetic cannibinoids are classified as ‘research chemicals’. Some of the products on the market are even labelled ‘not for human consumption’. They haven’t been scientifically tested.
John W. Huffman of Clemson University (USA) was one of the developers of cannabinoid compounds in the 1990s. They were developed as an appetite stimulant and nausea suppressant and were trialled with sufferers of PSTD. However the now Emeritus Professor told the Los Angeles Times in 2011, “These things are dangerous – anybody who uses them is playing Russian roulette,” Huffman told the Los Angeles Times in 2011. “They have profound psychological effects. We never intended them for human consumption.”
Natural marijuana, carries a compound called cannabidol which is shown to perhaps dampen the schizophrenia-like effects of THC. Not so with the synthetics. A U.K. survey last year found that 93 percent of people who had used both natural and synthetic marijuana preferred the old-fashioned plant, citing the harsh effects.
Apart from getting high, users have to also get used to the idea that you might experience agitation, anxiety, asthma, nausea, vomiting, elevated blood pressure, heart attack, seizures, hallucinations, paranoid behaviour and become catatonic and non-responsive. Sorry, but you won’t find that on the packaging.
There is a well documented human cost. In the USA, Emily Bauer, a Houston-area teenager suffered series of strokes that left her blind and paralysed after she smoked some fake weed she bought at a gas station. Early this year a 20 yr Gunnedah man had such a bad reaction to synthetic cannabis that he was ‘clinically dead’ when paramedics arrived at his home. His father described the pain of watching his son choking on his own vomit. The Newcastle Herald chronicles other tragedies and the ongoing problem of synthetic drug use among mining industry workers.
The problem is real. Cancer Council Hunter manager Shayne Connell is aware of the problem. He says “It’s just not on anyone else’s radar.”