Warning to Parents about Synthetic Pot
Take the story of Connor Eckhardt from California, who was declared braid-dead at age 19. The previous Saturday, an otherwise healthy Connor had smoked a synthetic form of pot called “spice” — a substance made from plants treated with chemicals that bind to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, a week later he was dead.
The synthetic pot, spice is also known as “K2” ( or called fake weed, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, Moon Rocks, Fire and Ice, Scooby Snax and many, many other names) — is more powerful than marijuana. Synthetic pot like K2 or spice can overwhelm brain circuitry, possibly leading to psychosis, kidney injury, high body temperature, heart attack or, like as in Connor’s case, death.
Moreover, the chemicals added to the synthetic pot can vary, making it difficult for users to know what they are smoking and how it might alter their brains.
In Connor’s case, his brain was deprived of oxygen and began to swell. Kids like Connor think it is safe, or they are invincible. But the results of trying it – even one time- can be deadly.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Spice products are popular among young people. Of the illicit drugs most used by high-school seniors, they are second only to marijuana.”
They are more popular among boys than girls — in 2012, nearly twice as many male 12th graders reported past-year use of synthetic marijuana as females in the same age group.
According to the Centers for Disease Control one in nine high school seniors have tried it Easy access and the misperception that Spice products are “natural” and therefore harmless have likely contributed to their popularity. Another selling point is that the chemicals used in Spice are not easily detected in standard drug tests.
Some Spice products are sold as “incense,” but they more closely resemble potpourri. Like marijuana, Spice is abused mainly by smoking. Sometimes Spice is mixed with marijuana or is prepared as an herbal infusion for drinking.
Back in May of 2011, the Paris City Council voted unanimously to ban the sale, purchase or possession of a synthetic marijuana product known as K2. It made the sale, purchase, use or possession of K2 a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000. But unfortunately, like all illegal drugs, it’s still available. And kids think it is harmless, or as safe as pure marijuana. But today even “real or pure” marijuana is often laced with chemicals, including Drano. Yes, Drano.
The Texas State Legislature passed a bill that same year, making the sale, purchase, use or possession of K2 a state jail felony. It is now considered an illegal substance — according to the Texas Controlled Substances Act.
Federal and state law enforcement agencies are also trying to make spice illegal by banning the chemicals used to make it. Last year, the Drug Enforcement Agency made 5 of the most common synthetic cannabinoid compounds illegal and numerous states have passed laws making it a controlled substance. But it’s like a game of chase, with underground chemists forever in the lead as they develop new variations on these compounds.
Even though the federal government outlawed synthetic marijuana two years ago, kids still don’t have a hard time finding it. Maryland secretary of health and mental hygiene, Joshua Sharfstein said the synthetic nature of the drug makes it tricky. “The challenge is really knowing whether something is illegal. It’s sometimes hard to pick it up. Sometimes it’s not on the label. You have to actually do a chemical analysis to figure out what’s going on,”
Manufacturers continually change the chemical compounds, known as cannibinoids, making it easier to skirt the law and harder for police to enforce. And, in turn, often making it even more dangerous.
Poison control centers nationwide report calls for overdoses in the last three years more than doubled. Because synthetic pot is not just one substance, but instead the collection of many hundreds or even more different substances, many of which have never been tested in humans before, it can be deadly.
Videos of kids smoking synthetic pot is all over U-Tube. And kids can purchase K2 online. Online distributors market them as “simply novelty potpourri products.”
In a 2013 article in Forbes magazine, they stated “Synthetic marijuana resembles its natural counterpart in the sense that it looks like a handful of green leaves and twigs – but that’s where the similarity ends. The leaves and twigs don’t come from Cannabis plants – they can be just about any herb (tea is often used) which has then been sprayed or soaked with a solution of synthetic chemicals. Spice hasn’t been associated with the extreme violence associated with the other news-making synthetic drug, Bath Salts, but by causing hallucinations and paranoia it can lead to dangerous behavior.”
The chemicals in Synthetic Pot have the potential to cause long-term and even permanent health consequences. Some of those are:
- Hallucinations (sometimes violent ones)
- Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
- Cardiac problems
- Kidney Damage
- Mental Illness
So, how do you keep your kids away from K2? Drug tests won’t work, but talking to them might.
From one mom to another,
Jenny Wilson is a mother of three. She teaches a Mommy & Me class at Central Presbyterian Day School, serves on the PCT Board of Directors and Children’s Theatre Advisory Committee, the Children’s Advocacy Center board, the Downtown Food Pantry Board, and the Parent Association Board of Aikin Elementary and the Paris ISD School Board of Trustees. Mrs. Wilson is a Sunday school teacher at Holy Cross Episcopal Church. She also is a certified yoga instructor and the Sr. Editor of eParisExtra.com