Can Synthetic Weed Have Negative Neurological Effects?

Synthetic weed is sometimes sold as herbal incense or potpourri. Because it’s not marketed specifically for human consumption, its sale can fall into a murky gray area of legality. Although any synthetic or natural weed is technically illegal under federal law, except for the natural cannabinoid CBD derived from hemp, these synthetic weed products continue to be available in some areas and online. Can synthetic weed have negative neurological effects? Yes, it can, and these effects are what make this substance so dangerous. Synthetic weed is not the same as natural weed. These synthetic products go by a number of different euphemisms and clever monikers:

  • K2
  • Spice
  • Blaze
  • Paradise
  • Black Magic
  • Spike
  • Genie
  • Dream

Synthetic Weed and the Body

The substance is often sprayed onto some kind of inert plant material to resemble natural marijuana. It’s also sold in powder form that can be dissolved in water and vaped. To understand why synthetic weed is so much more dangerous than natural weed, you first need to understand how the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, works in the body. The human body has what is called an ECS. This stands for Endocannabinoid System. The body actually makes its own cannabinoids that bind to and activate certain receptors in the ECS. This ECS regulates body systems and cell functions in many ways, especially in the cardiac, nervous and immune systems. Besides humans, just about all animals also have an ECS system. Two of the ECS receptors are called CB1 and CB2. The THC or tetrahydrocannabinol present in natural marijuana activates and binds to the CB1 receptors, most of which are located in the brain and central nervous system. This receptor is associated with intoxication, and this is why THC makes people feel high. Another cannabinoid, CBD or cannabidiol, only interacts with the CB2 receptors. Most of these are located in the peripheral nervous system and skin. Because the CB2 receptor is not associated with intoxication, CBD cannot cause someone to feel high. There is a rapidly growing amount of information suggesting that CBD may have many health benefits as well.

Natural Cannabinoids

The cannabinoid compounds in both hemp and marijuana plants are intended to work together. When you ingest THC in natural marijuana or CBD from natural hemp, you are also ingesting dozens of other important compounds, such as terpenes, which regulate and increase the beneficial effects. CBD can also be derived from marijuana plants, but as of this writing, this is illegal under federal law. CBD is only federally legal when it’s derived from hemp plants, which by law must contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. It should also be noted that as of this writing, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Although many states have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana, it’s still illegal under federal law and has been so since 1970. Political pressure to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level is strong, and it’s likely that 2021 will see a change in this nonsensical federal statute, but this has not yet been enacted into law.

Synthetic weed activates the same CB1 receptor as natural THC does and produces some of the same effects. The problem with the synthetic version has to do toxicity, potency and impurities in the synthetic product. Natural THC only activates the CB1 receptor to a certain degree. Synthetic marijuana products activate the receptor much more fully, resulting in a number of dangerous neurological side effects:

  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Psychosis
  • Delusions
  • Violent behavior

These effects are completely different from those of natural THC, which tends to produce a somewhat dreamlike state of pleasant relaxation in most users. THC is generally of very low toxicity and true THC overdose is exceedingly rare. In contrast, synthetic marijuana products can have other dangerous effects on the body:

  • Stroke
  • Coma
  • Kidney damage
  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
  • Death

Addiction and withdrawal symptoms have also been reported.

Need Help?

If you’re using K2, Spice or any other name for synthetic marijuana, and you’re wanting to stop, we can help. We’re familiar with this substance, and we can refer you to the best treatment facility for your needs. The time to get treatment is now and before you experience any serious adverse effects. Just call us at 833-497-3812 anytime. Our trained counselors have many resources to assist you and guide you to a better life without the risks of synthetic marijuana.