16 Jul Fake Pot Sends Thousand to Emergency Rooms
The terms “legal” and “safe” are not synonymous. While some of the latest versions of synthetic marijuana may not yet be banned by law, the side effects of these drugs are no less dangerous that those that have been. Authorities are particularly concerned about misconceptions that adolescents may have about fake pot.
One type of synthetic marijuana known by the names of Spice, K2, and various other aliases, was only recently classified as a controlled substance by the DEA. Until that point, it had become very popular with teens because it was easily accessible at local convenience stores and gas stations.
But experts say that fake pot, which consists of cannabinoids originally meant for pain management, may have more potency than THC found in marijuana. There is also little research to suggest how these chemicals impact bodily functioning.
Side effects from manmade marijuana include anxiety, hypertension, heavy sweating, increased heart rate and mood swings. A bigger concern, however, is the long-term side effects of these drugs, which are still unknown.
Another problem with these drugs is that the level of cannabinoids is unpredictable from one variety to the next, making it difficult for hospital staff to know how to properly treat teens who are admitted to the ER. The American Association of Poison Control Centers has logged nearly 4,500 calls relating to scares from fake pot.
Synthetic marijuana and marijuana in general can present dangers for teens on many levels, but compounding the problem is the fact that adolescent brains are still growing and maturing. There’s the potential for these drugs to cause irreversible long-term damage.
Dr. Steven Shoptaw of UCLA says that adolescent use of marijuana — particularly among eighth-, ninth- and 10th-graders has been a growing problem. Parents and educators need to be aware of the symptoms of such drugs and continue to dispel misconceptions regarding their safety.
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