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Synthetic Cannabinoids

They go by names like Spice, K2, Genie, Red X and Skunk and come in colorful foil wrappers and plastic bottles. For years, synthetic cannabinoids have been sold in drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, gas stations, street dealers and online across the U.S.

Unlike marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids are not one drug, but multiple different human-made chemicals. These chemicals interact with the body’s cannabinoid receptors to cause both desired and undesired effects.

Caution: Synthetic cannabinoids can cause severe symptoms, illness and death. The effects of using synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable and harmful.

Effects of synthetic cannabinoids similar to marijuana:

  • Elevated mood and relaxed state

  • Sleepiness and dizziness

  • Brain and psychological disturbances

  • Headaches

  • Agitation and irritability

  • Confusion and concentration problems

  • Hallucinations, extreme paranoia, delusions and psychosis

  • Seizures 

Other health effects of synthetic cannabinoids:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fast hear rate

  • High blood pressure

  • Vomiting

  • Muscle damage

  • Kidney failure

  • Violent behavior

  • Suicidal thoughts

Synthetic cannabinoids are sold as “synthetic marijuana” when sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked. The drug is also available as a liquid and used in vaping cartridges placed in e-cigarettes or in joints, pipes and other devices.

Unlike marijuana, the human-made chemicals in synthetic cannabinoids are not the same as THC derived from the cannabis plant. As a results, synthetic cannabinoids are not detected on standard urine drug screens. Individuals who work in jobs or environments that have regular random drug tests may be more prone to using synthetic cannabinoids. These include those in military personnel, justice-involved individuals, and those on parole or in court-mandated drug rehabilitation.

IPC is here to help. Call our helpline at 1-800-222-1222 if someone you know is having health problems after using synthetic cannabinoids. Our toxicology experts are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer your questions and provide treatment advice.

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