Spice Isn’t so Nice

Synthetic marijuana has side effects that can land you in the emergency room

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) The sale of artificial marijuana was nationally banned in 2012. With little to no regulation, there was no way to tell what was in the synthetic marijuana anyway.

A recent report reveals statistics on emergency room visits from synthetic marijuana use in the US.

“Parents, teachers, coaches and other concerned adults can make a huge impact by talking to young people, especially older adolescents and young adults, about the potential risks associated with using synthetic marijuana,” said SAMHSA administrator.

"Talk to your kids about synthetic marijuana."

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a new report on the use of synthetic marijuana, commonly known as “Spice” or “K2”. SAMHSA reported that in 2010, there were 11,406 emergency department (ED) visits due to synthetic marijuana use in the US.

A total of 75 percent of ED visits for synthetic marijuana side effects were between the ages of 12-29 and 78 percent were male. In 41 percent of cases, one or more other drugs were also involved.

Side effects of synthetic marijuana included rapid heartbeat, vomiting, nausea, seizures, hallucinations, non-responsiveness and feelings of paranoia or agitation.

In July 2012, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act made a provision under Title XI to nationally ban synthetic marijuana sales. Prior to this legislation, only certain states had bans on the sale of synthetic marijuana. In many states there were no age restrictions on sales.

A national survey conducted in 2011 found that 11 percent of high school seniors had tried synthetic marijuana.

Pamela S. Hyde, SAMHSA administrator, said, “Healthcare professionals should be alerted to the potential dangers of synthetic cannabinoids (active ingredient in marijuana), and they should be aware that their patients may be using these substances.”

This report was published in December on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website. Funding was supported by the US Department of Health and Human Services. No conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 9, 2012
Last Updated:
December 14, 2012