Synthetic Marijuana (K2)

What is it?

Synthetic marijuana refers to dried plant material that is sprayed with chemicals that mimic THC, the drug found in real marijuana.[3] The chemicals bind to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain like THC, but some may interact with the receptor for a longer period of time or may bind more strongly than THC does.[3] These increased interactions mean that there will be stronger effects.[3] Overdosing becomes much easier, especially as people don’t know just how much is an overdose.

Synthetic marijuana is a rising danger and the number of people it sends to the emergency room is growing. People, particularly adolescents, are drawn to this new drug because they believe that it’s “more legal”, and because it is cheaper than real marijuana.[1] In addition, synthetic marijuana is difficult to catch on drug screens and tests due to the variety in the chemicals used.[1] HOWEVER, those people also discount the extremely serious and fast-acting effects of these drugs.

Because the chemicals are manufactured, bans and laws that prohibit these chemicals are easily skirted by the manufacturing of new chemicals and modification of the banned ones.[1] The onslaught of new chemicals that are used in synthetic marijuana makes it difficult to treat in the emergency rooms because the numerous chemicals were never studied.[1]

Common names include:

  • Spice
  • K2
  • Mr. Smiley
  • Red X Dawn
  • Blaze
  • Black Mamba
  • Bombay Blue
  • Fake weed
  • Genie
  • Zohai[1]



What are the health risks?

Short term symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Combativeness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures[1]

Long term effects

  • Not available, as this drug hasn’t been around long enough to study them.[1]


How is it used?

Synthetic marijuana, similar to real marijuana, can be smoked or ingested.[2]