Synthetic Cannabis

USE AND EFFECTS OF SYNTHETIC CANNABIS

Synthetic cannabis is a psychoactive substance that is designed to mimic or produce similar effects to cannabis. It has been sold online since 2004.

Synthetic cannabis is produced with man-made chemicals that create similar effects to delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis. However, reports suggest it also produces additional negative effects. These powdered chemicals are mixed with solvents and added to herbs and sold in colourful, branded packets. The chemicals usually vary from batch to batch as manufacturers try to stay ahead of the law, so different packets can produce different effects even if the name and branding on the package looks the same.

Synthetic cannabis is marketed under different brand names.

Spice was the earliest in a series of synthetic cannabis products sold in many European countries. Since then a number of similar products have been developed, such as Kronic, Northern Lights, Mojo, Lightning Gold, Lightning Red and Godfather.

Synthetic cannabis is also marketed as aphrodisiac tea, herbal incense and potpourri.

Synthetic cannabis is relatively new, so there is limited information available about its short- and long-term effects including how safe or unsafe it is to use. However, it has been reported to have similar effects to cannabis, along with some additional negative and potentially more harmful ones including:

 

  • Fast and irregular heartbeat
  • Racing thoughts
  • Agitation, anxiety and paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Aggressive and violent behaviour
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Death

 Symptoms of withdrawal from synthetic cannabis

  •  Anger or aggression
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness/anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia, including strange dreams