08 Oct More Bans on Spice Drug
Legislators in Baltimore County, Maryland recently banned a synthetic form of marijuana called “Spice” or “K2”. Those who are found to have sold, possessed or distributed the drug could face up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine and will be guilty of a misdemeanor. Various cities and states across the US have already banned the substance.
Lawmakers cite uncertainty surrounding the drug’s effect on the body, as well as an increase in its illegal dealing, as the reasons behind the prohibition. Although very few legitimate stores actually sell the drug, those that do have no rules against selling Spice to children. Officials fear that Spice may act like marijuana or cocaine after it is ingested, which could lead to drug addiction and related problems. Other officials claim that the higher price of the synthetic marijuana may actually push addicts and users into buying the real, cheaper, and (at least under current medical theory) more dangerous version.
Although Spice is called a “drug”, it actually is a synthetic product that does not necessarily need to be regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or any other US government agency. Users can buy the products online, in head shops, and at gas stations. Although it is marketed as both incense and a smoking herb, burning the substance as incense is rare. One very attractive characteristic of Spice is that is does not cause a positive result in drug test, although it is possible to identify the product’s metabolites during a urine examination.
Manufacturers of Spice claim that it is a mixture of medicinal herbs that are selected for the pot-like effect that the mixture produces. However, governmental laboratories were unable confirm the presence of any of the plants that manufacturers claim make up the substance. In addition, the labs identified synthetic tocopherol as an ingredient and now suspect that the cannabis-like effects come directly from undisclosed synthetic cannabis. Tocopherol (TCP) is a form of Vitamin E.
German researchers have recently discovered that the active ingredient in Spice is actually a synthetic cannabinoid that has since been placed on Germany’s list of controlled drugs.
Medical professionals admit that little is known about synthetic marijuana, especially how it affects the human brain. Although ingredients in Spice and other synthetic versions of pot do target the same neuroreceptors as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main ingredient in marijuana, Spice actually targets these neuroreceptors with greater strength than does THC. Researchers are at a loss as to what negative effects, if any, the increased strength will have on delicate brain tissue. For example, it has long been established that people who smoke natural marijuana are not at risk for death by overdose; whether the same can be said for users of Spice remains to be seen.
Researchers have discovered that very large doses of Spice can have negative consequences, such as nervousness and vomiting, not usually seen in high doses of regular marijuana. Further, there is evidence that smoking Spice can have detrimental affects on the lungs, as well as cause heavy users to experience symptoms of drug withdrawal when they stop using it. In some instances, users have shown signs of being addicted.
Many countries in Europe have already banned synthetic marijuana; it first appeared in the European market in 2004 before spreading across the Atlantic. Spice is still legal in Canada and some U.S. states. However, after several incidents at military bases in Japan, the U.S. government has banned the use of Spice in all US armed forces.
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