Working as a Seattle auto accident attorney I have seen many accidents caused by the use and abuse of prescription drugs and other narcotics. Much to the horror of parents, such as myself, 46% of high school seniors have admitted to trying drugs at least once. Though marijuana and prescription drugs top the list of commonly abused drugs among youth a new legal drug may soon steal the spotlight. Synthetic Marijuana or K2 has popped up in recent years as the drug of choice among teens who want to get a “legal” high. Though these products are currently legal they have caused many negative health effects for hundreds of teens across the nation, and even triggered an auto accident in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. But what is this drug and how can you, as a parent, recognize it and prevent your teens from abusing its highly dangerous chemicals?
What is Synthetic Marijuana?
Synthetic Marijuana goes by several different names, most commonly; legal bud, synthetic marijuana, fake weed, herbal smoke, marijuana alternative, or herbal buds.
Synthetic marijuana originated at Clemson University in South Carolina. The drug K2 was created in an attempt to develop synthetic versions of the cannabinoids found in Marijuana to be used for therapeutic drugs. These K2 cannabinoids have similar effects to the THC found in Marijuana.
These “herbal drugs” were first introduced in 2002, and originally used the chemical HU-210 which is very similar to THC. HU-210, however, is now a controlled substance in the United States so new synthetic cannabinoids have been created which are not controlled: CP 47, 497 and JWH-018. The packages of synthetic marijuana are simply packages of common herbs sprayed down with the synthetic cannabinoid chemicals.
How Do Kids Get a Hold of Synthetic Marijuana?
Synthetic marijuana is amazingly easy to get access through tobacco stores, head shops, and some gas stations and is often sold as incense or bath salts. Companies are able to continue selling the products as neither the synthetic cannabinoids used are not illegal and the products contain disclaimers stating it is not for human consumption.
Since popularity grew significantly in the last year, (6 reported incidents in 2009and 500 in 2010) 12 states have banned the sale of synthetic marijuana products including; Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oregon, and Tennessee.
So What Are the Dangers?
When researching synthetic marijuana, ABC news sent a sample of synthetic marijuana to a laboratory in Pennsylvania. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the lab results revealed that the drug can be up to 5 times more powerful than marijuana and tests showed it had both dangerous short term and long term side effects.
Common side effects that have been reported include increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, hallucinations and unconsciousness. Synthetic marijuana has lead to 1 death, hundreds of emergency room visits and close to 600 calls to poison control centers.
How to Protect Your Kids?
Protecting your kids from the dangers of synthetic marijuana is not easy, especially since the drug goes undetected by standard drug test, but here are two tips we can give you.
- Know what your looking for! If you know what synthetic marijuana looks like you will be able to recognize it more easily. There are a variety of brands of synthetic marijuana including: Blaze, Dank, Blueberry Haze, Genie, Demon Passion Smoke, K2, Magma, Hawaiian Hybrid, Nitro, Ono Budz, Nija, Puff, Skunk, Panama Red Ball, Sativah Herbal Smoke, Spice, Voodoo Spice and Ultra Chronic. Synthetic marijuana looks like traditional dried herbs which can be green, brown, red or blonde. The packages are 2” x 3” of foil or can also be in zip lock bags.
- Watch their Spending: Synthetic Marijuana costs anywhere from $20.00-$60.00 a pack. If you teen is going through an unusual amount of money- ask questions.
- Talk to them! Let your kids know how dangerous synthetic marijuana is and your expectations that they don’t use the drugs. Studies show children that have a strong anti-drug message are less likely to use drugs.