Drug Information

Synthetic Cannabis

What is Synthetic Cannabis?

Synthetic cannabis (synthetic marijuana), or technically synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists are designer drugs that mimic the effects of cannabis sprayed onto a smokable herbal base material. 

There are several psychoactive artificial cannabinoid families that are used as designer drugs sold as natural highs under numerous brand names like K2 and Spice.

 

The precise composition and doses in synthetic cannabis aren’t known, so its effects aren’t completely clear.

No official studies have been conducted on the effects of synthetic cannabinoids on humans (as is often the case with illegal and potentially toxic compounds). However, reports describing effects seen in patients seeking medical care after taking synthetic cannabinoids have been published.

 

Most studies have focussed on the ill effects of synthetic cannabis and have reported exacerbation of psychosis, anxiety and agitation. These reports are consistent with the adverse effects of plant cannabis.

 

Compared to cannabis and its active cannabinoid THC, the adverse effects are often much more severe and can include hypertension, tachycardia, myocardial infarction, agitation, vomiting, hallucinations, psychoses, seizures, convulsions and panic attacks. 

 

Among individuals who need emergency treatment after using synthetic cannabis, the most common symptoms are accelerated heartbeat, high blood pressure, nausea, blurred vision, hallucination and agitation. Other symptoms included epileptic seizures, acute psychosis, and heart attacks.

 

 

Drug Detection

 

Synthetic cannabis consumption does not cause a positive urine drug test for cannabis / THC, its metabolites or other cannabinoids using standard onsite testing devices or laboratory immunological screening procedures. 

 

In order to detect the presence of synthetic cannabinoids or their metabolites specifically-targeted screening methods need to be employed.  Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC/MS) is most often used for confirmation and quantitation.

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