Banned in 43 states and undetectable in toxicology screenings, "spice" is made of a mixture of herbs doused in a solution of designer chemicals that mimic a cannabis high when consumed. The synthetic drug can be even more potent than real marijuana because of the more complete way its psychoactive ingredient binds to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors.
Recently, neurologists from the University of Southern Florida published news of the link between K2 and strokes in the journal Neurology after a brother and sister, 26 and 19, suffered acute ischemic strokes shortly after smoking the chemical stew. The researchers ruled out any undiagnosed genetic condition that would predispose the siblings to strokes at such a young age.
This isn’t the first time synthetic marijuana has been linked to serious health risks. A study in February out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham linked the product to acute kidney injury.
In spite of the risks, and maybe because recreational marijuana remains illegal and difficult to obtain in most states, the synthetic cannabis is immensely popular among teens.
“You don’t know what you’re getting when you smoke synthetic marijuana,” senior study author W. Scott Burgin said of the product sold mostly underground and without any ingredients list. “It’s like the Wild West of pharmaceuticals, and you may be playing dangerously with your brain and your health.”
Just stick with the green stuff Mother Nature gave you, and all will be well.