What Is K2/Spice?
K2/Spice is a synthetic cannabinoid. It’s often called synthetic marijuana for its ability to mimic marijuana’s high. Unlike marijuana, the drug isn’t natural. The synthetic cannabinoids are sprayed onto dried plant material.
Synthetic cannabinoids were invented by a scientist searching for ways to manipulate certain receptors in the body. The cannabinoid receptor is what triggers marijuana users to feel high when they take that drug. Researchers have also found that the receptor plays a role in sleep and pain.
Scientists invented more than 300 new chemicals to activate cannabinoid receptors. In late 2008, the researchers got word that one of those compounds showed up in Spice. In the years that followed the discovery of the compound Spice, over 500 new synthetic drugs have been identified. This is because clandestine scientists have continued to change their drug recipes in order to avoid drug scheduling.
There’s no main ingredient in synthetic cannabinoids. The compounds are usually produced in powdered form. They’re dissolved in a solvent like acetone and then sprayed onto plant material. That plant material typically comes from the cheapest possible source.
Synthetic Marijuana vs. Marijuana
What’s the difference between synthetic marijuana and marijuana? Although K2 is often marketed as “fake weed,” that couldn’t be further from the truth. Calling it “fake weed” creates an illusion of safety around K2/spice. The safety of marijuana has been debated for many years and will continue to be studied, but the increase in states moving to legalize it and the boost in THC-based medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that marijuana is generally considered safe. But marijuana has only one ingredient: cannabis. Calling K2 “fake weed” gives the illusion that it’s as safe as the real thing.
The safety showdown between K2 and spice vs. weed comes down to one important point: synthetic marijuana ingredients are nothing like marijuana ingredients. There’s nothing natural about these lab-made compounds. And worse, there’s no one making sure that the finished product is safe or pure. Most of the chemicals used to make synthetic cannabinoids are made out of the country and without regulations. There’s no way of knowing what you’re getting with synthetic marijuana. There are hundreds of different compounds that could be used in addition to additives and solvents.
Is synthetic marijuana legal? Yes and no. There’s no accepted medical use in the United States. Also, many of the compounds that may be used as synthetic marijuana ingredients can be found on the list of Schedule I drugs, meaning it’s illegal to buy, sell or possess any of those chemicals. To skirt around the law, manufacturers change the chemicals they use to avoid the illegal ones. There’s also no regulation of the drug. Each package could contain a different and potentially dangerous mix of chemicals.