What is Synthetic Marijuana?

The dangers of synthetic marijuana are very real, but are often overlooked due to little research. Here’s what we do know about the drug.

What is Synthetic Marijuana?

Synthetic marijuana, also known as K2, Spice, or fake weed, refers to a class of synthetic chemicals that produce similar effects to those produced by marijuana and are often used as marijuana substitutes.

Synthetic marijuana was developed to understand the effects of marijuana on the brain and the body as a whole. It wasn’t long before variations of the drug began making the rounds on the illegal market. Now there are so many synthetic cannabinoids variations that identification is difficult.2

Synthetic Marijuana


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Is Synthetic Marijuana Dangerous?

Most people who smoke synthetic marijuana often claim the dangers of synthetic marijuana are lower than those of real marijuana; however,the dangers of synthetic marijuana are actually under-estimated.

Synthetic marijuana usually contains several different constituent chemical compounds capable of producing severe negative health effects.3 The negative effects of synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable, ranging from mild effects like euphoria to more severe ones like seizures and violent behaviors.

Additionally, with rounds of synthetic marijuana circulating in the illegal market, the quality and composition of the substance is not monitored. It is not uncommon for illicit substances to be laced with even more harmful substances or chemicals.

Further, there has not been significant enough research to support the claim that synthetic marijuana is harmless.

What is Real Marijuana?

Marijuana is a commonly used psychoactive substance made from the dried flowers, leaves, seeds, and stems of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant widely used for its psychoactive effects. It is used in medicine for its powerful analgesic effects.

Continual use of marijuana has been linked with severe medical conditions like COPD and a lowering of body immunity. In recent years some people have been “switching” from marijuana to “synthetic marijuana,” but this may not be for the better.

Differentiating Between The Two

The most significant way to differentiate between real and synthetic marijuana is that synthetic marijuana combines compounds from leaves and flowers of several different plants as well as man-made synthetic chemicals. Because the chemicals in synthetic marijuana could be literally almost anything, people who use it risk experiencing severe negative health effects.

Due to the relatively unknown pharmacology and harmful health effects of synthetic marijuana, several states have made it illegal. That means that synthetic marijuana is not monitored as it circulates, and with that, it is difficult to verify the contents of synthetic marijuana consumption. There are no variations of synthetic marijuana that are legal, unlike real marijuana.

What Does Synthetic Marijuana Look Like?

Synthetic marijuana, like real marijuana, has a dry “herbal” look. However, the significant appearance difference is in the color and packaging. Real marijuana has a greenish-brown or grayish-green color. Synthetic marijuana, however, comes in various, often less organic looking hues, such as green, brown, red, and even blonde.

Synthetic marijuana is often packaged in plastic bags or in bright aluminum foil packets. Some synthetic cannabinoid packages may even have disclaimers informing buyers that it is, “not for human consumption.”

Is Synthetic Marijuana the Same Thing as Real Marijuana?

Differentiating between real and fake weed can be tricky because the chemicals found in synthetic marijuana are similar to those found in real marijuana, and elicit nearly identical effects on the brain. Nevertheless, synthetic marijuana is still not the same as real marijuana (and cannot legally be sold and marketed as such).

Effects Of Synthetic Marijuana

There are a variety of side effects that can occur because of synthetic marijuana consumption. They will be detailed below.

Common Side Effects of Synthetic Marijuana

Synthetic marijuana acts on the same brain receptors as THC–the primary psychoactive substance found in real marijuana–so there are similarities observed in the side effects of both synthetic and real marijuana. Due to synthetic marijuana’s different chemical composition its effects differ.

Synthetic marijuana’s effects are usually stronger than what is observed with real marijuana because these synthetic cannabinoids tend to bind more firmly to the receptors than THC.

Common Synthetic Marijuna Side Effects
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Confusion and trouble concentrating
  • Hallucinations, delusions, psychosis, suicidal thoughts, and violent behavior
  • Seizures
  • Sleepiness and dizziness
  • Breathing problems
  • Heart attacks, fast heart rate, high blood pressure, and strokes
  • Kidney failure

Withdrawal Symptoms of Synthetic Marijuana

Even though synthetic marijuana mainly contains different chemical compounds from real marijuana, it is still possible to develop substance use disorders involving synthetic marijuana.

Because of its high addiction profile, withdrawal from synthetic drug addiction is usually accompanied by some withdrawal side effects of smoking synthetic weed.

Common Effects of Synthetic Marijuana Withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
Treatment for Synthetic Marijuana

Treatment For Synthetic Marijuana Addiction at concise recovery

Successful withdrawal and recovery from synthetic marijuana use can be challenging, but it is possible with the right type and quality of care. Do you, or someone you know, want to be free from dependence on chemical marijuana? Concise Recovery Treatment Center is the perfect treatment option for you.

In all of our clinics, Concise Recovery Center offers excellent addiction detoxification and recovery therapy–all thanks to our team of experienced addiction specialists, highly trained in treating several types of addiction. At Concise Recovery, patients have access to 5-star treatment facilities with Joint Commission accreditation, holistic dual-diagnosis treatment approaches, and personalized treatment and therapy solutions.6

These treatment solutions are efficiently combined and provide a smooth and convenient transition to full recovery. Concise Recovery Center is always here to help! Learn to say no to addiction, regain autonomy over your life and overall wellness, and get the healing you deserve today by reaching out.