Synthetic cannabinoids, also known as synthetic marijuana, spice, and K2, are synthetically engineered chemicals made to mimic the effects of marijuana. There is, however, one very critical difference – unlike plant-based, natural marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids can lead to hazardous side effects, and in some cases, they can even be toxic.

Some of the severe side-effects linked to the use of synthetic cannabinoids include:

  • Tachycardia or rapid heart rate
  • Agitation
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations

One case involved 130 New Yorkers being hospitalized after experiencing severe adverse symptoms caused using K2. This is barely the tip of the iceberg compared to over 8,000 emergency room visits reportedly caused by the drug in New York City between 2015 and 2016, despite the drug being declared illegal in 2012.

The chemical has even been linked to several deaths, leading the CDC to warn against the drug on their website, advising people to avoid it and call for emergency assistance immediately if they have taken it.

study performed by Dutch researchers seems to confirm this severe view of synthetic cannabinoids. The study tested the effects of recreational synthetic cannabinoids and found that the active ingredients were far more dangerous than those found in natural cannabis products.

The study found that participants were left with an increased heart rate and performed poorly on motor skill and cognitive assessments. Additionally, participants showed more significant levels of impaired cognitive tracking, confusion, and memory loss and experienced an impaired sense of reality and identity.

The reasons posited for this is that while THC found in natural cannabis affects the brain’s same receptors, synthetic cannabinoids bind more strongly to these receptors and therefore cause a more potent reaction.

While many people may feel this has nothing to do with them, as they only use natural cannabis products, a Dutch organization that monitors and educates on drug use has recently reported finding natural cannabis products laced with synthetic chemicals.

Unfortunately, this puts even natural cannabis users at risk of experiencing the dangerous side-effects of synthetic products. It is almost impossible to tell whether synthetic chemicals have been added to the product. The only way to know for certain is by testing the product yourself.
Lab testers often don’t test for synthetic chemicals, so the safest route is to go for in-house testing. While this does not provide a 100% guarantee, it is your responsibility to minimize your customers’ risks and provide them with a quality product.