Chemicals in Synthetic Marijuana Vary Widely, as Does Impact on UsersAug 22, 2012
An article published in the Journal of Forensic Science details the range of dangers associated with the use of synthetic marijuana or “fake pot,” including frequent ingredient changes, inaccurate labeling and inconsistent use of the amount of chemicals used, resulting in users being unable to know the type of chemicals being used in a product, the amount used, or how the product will impact them or the type of behavior it may incite.
The article marks the first time that the Journal of Forensic Science, the largest circulation peer reviewed forensic science journal in the United States, has published a piece on the topic of synthetic cannabinoids. In many cases, use of the drugs sparks behavior far different than is typically associated with marijuana use. In July, a Florida man attacked a sleeping friend with a butcher knife after smoking a product known as Cloud 9. In Texas, reports state that a man attacked and attempted to eat his family’s dog while it was still alive after smoking a synthetic marijuana product. Last year, police said a teenager jumped off the third story deck of a parking garage after smoking a fake pot product.
Because manufacturers of these synthetic marijuana products often change the types and amounts of the synthetic chemicals that they spray on herbs or spices, the high and side effects of smoking a specific product one day may be vastly different the next time an individual uses the product. In addition, fake pot products often contain multiple types of chemicals which have an additive effect on the user when combined. They may also contain other classes or families of drugs such as mitragynine, a stimulant with opiate-like effects.
“Manufacturers of these fake pot products are constantly changing the types of chemicals they use in an effort to avoid efforts by lawmakers and law enforcement to crack down on these drugs,” says Dr. Barry Logan, a co-author of the article and the Director of Forensic and Toxicological Services at NMS Labs. “But that also means users may have no idea what chemicals they are inhaling, how it will impact them, or the amount of chemicals used in a specific batch of a product. It is important that forensic scientists work to remain on the cutting edge in this area, as the chemicals being used in these products is constantly changing, as are the effects these products have on users.”
“We felt it was important to share what we have learned through our research with the goal of advancing the study and understanding of synthetic marijuana products among the larger forensic science community,” says Logan.
A recent study commissioned by the National Institute for Drug Abuse showed that use of fake pot is a growing trend. According to the study, one in every nine high school seniors (11.4 percent) reported using synthetic marijuana in the prior 12 months. Many teens believe the products are safe, “legal” highs that will not be detected in a routine drug test, will not arouse parental suspicion, and are “safe” alternatives to marijuana.
NMS Labs and Logan are hopeful that the article will spur increased focus on the drugs within the forensic science community. The article shares a significant amount of scientific findings developed by NMS Labs researchers under the company’s Designer Drug Initiative. The article highlights the drugs most frequently found in incense, synthetic marijuana and K2 products; describes common methods for the analysis of synthetic drugs; provides useful data for crime laboratories and others analyzing these kinds of materials; emphasizes the fact that the composition of products changes over time; documents some of the chemicals found in these illicit materials; and discusses the potency of the drugs and the dangers to users.
Copies of the article are available for review by contacting NMS Labs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: NMS Labs