Study Finds Synthetic Cannabis More Potent than Natural Counterpart

Study Finds Synthetic Cannabis More Potent than Natural Counterpart

Synthetic cannabis products known as Spice are often attractive for those who believe they are avoiding the harmful effects of marijuana by turning to a man-made product. New research suggests this thinking is in error and Spice use could pose a risk for psychosis.

Featured in a Medscape article, the study found the risk for psychosis exists even for those with no history of a disorder. In fact, the study findings suggest the risk is even higher in Spice as compared with its natural counterpart.

Carlos Alverio, MD, with the Boston University School of Medicine was the lead author on this study. He stressed his findings at the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) 22nd Annual Meeting & Symposium, highlighting that synthetic substances are more potent than cannabis in its natural state.

In its synthetic form, cannabis is generally labeled as herbal incense, but will cause psychoactive effects that resemble the outcome of cannabis use. Such use led to hundreds of emergency room visits in 2010.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has responded to this increasing abuse by banning five chemicals commonly found in synthetic cannabis products, including K2 and Spice. The DEA reported these herbal products – which can be smoked – were becoming increasingly popular among young adults and teens as they contained chemicals that were legal.

The FDA has not approved any of the chemicals for human consumption, according to the DEA, which renders the manufacturing process completely without oversight. Young individuals were consuming products they assumed were safe simple because they were available through retail outlets.

Young people using the synthetic products reported episodes of hallucinations, hearing voices, extreme paranoia, disorganization, anxiety and confusion.

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