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What is Synthetic Marijuana and is it Dangerous? 

The underground manufacture and sale of recreational drugs is a necessarily dirty one. Cartels and kingpins do not get rich from consideration for the physical safety of their competition, nor for the health of the people who use their goods. The selling of these products is not limited to the black market, however, and the proliferation of ‘legal highs’ such as synthetic marijuana in recent years illustrates this well. 

What is Synthetic Marijuana?

Synthetic cannabinoids are human made mind alternating chemicals that behave in a similar way to THC, but have far serious consequences. Synthetic cannabinoids are often sprayed on to shredded plant matter and can be sold as marijuana.

Changing the finer points of a illegal substances molecular composition enough to bypass the law is what most people that make synthetic drugs do. They then package it in suitably alluring sachets and sell it to head shops with a ‘not for human consumption’ sticker attached.  

This is in turn sold to the reckless, the curious and the ignorant alike, with some being drawn in by its easy availability and others by its presumed safety due to its legal status. The law will typically catch up sooner or later to prohibit the sale of this particular mix. 

To the credit of successive governments and many head shops alike, the legality and sale of such synthetic highs has been significantly curtailed. We have not reached this point without suffering casualties, however, and the popularity of certain products such as Spice continue to ruin lives even after their ban. 

Indeed it seems that the connotation of safety behind both marijuana as a substance and legality as a concept are what has fuelled this segment of the market. The reality is, however, that the effects given by synthetic marijuana are so severe and strange that they are often unrecognisable to a seasoned weed smoker.  

On a certain biological level, fake pot works in much the same way as weed itself. Cannabis gets you high by binding the THC molecules in the bud to the CB1 receptors in your body. Synthetic marijuana, meanwhile, uses a component which is not actually THC but remains similar enough to bind to those same receptors. The difference is that these replacements not only lack the natural characteristics of cannabis, but they seriously amplify its potency too.

what is Synthetic Marijuana

Fake pot has been known to be twice to a hundred times as strong as the THC levels found in your humble cannabis plant, with predictably serious consequences.

The lack of real THC is how these products were allowed onto the market in the first place, yet the chemicals that replaced this THC have instead led to the products’ prohibition and serious health risks too. 

The strength of these chemically-pumped marijuana substitutes are not the only thing that separates them from the real deal either. These are artificial products with none of the natural components or subtlety of the cannabis plant. It is hardly surprising then that the side effects one gets from consuming them differ too. What marijuana certainly will not do is kill you, which is something fake pot cannot boast. 

Aside from the possible but admittedly slim chance of death, these substances have been known to increase your heart rate to a worrying level. Other side effects include damage to your kidneys, severe headaches, badly interfere with your vision and induce vomiting and psychosis. One of the worst aspects of synthetic marijuana is the tendency for regular users to report strong and unpleasant side effects upon stopping its usage too. Put simply, this is not cannabis and most synthetic types will offer none of the joy that has made weed the globally enjoyed phenomena it is. 

Questions will naturally arise about where it came from. Given its recent popularity some may be surprised to know its story began in the 1980s. This is when synthetic cannabis concoctions were being investigated for scientific purposes, by an American chemistry professor for a better understanding of how marijuana functions. The formulas for these concoctions were innocently made available to the world when his work was published. Leading to an interest at first by the scientifically motivated, and then by the criminally inclined.  

How is Synthetic Marijuana made?

The ways in which fake pot can be made are predictably uninteresting given the product’s chemical compositions and nasty effects. The cannabinoids themselves are often obtained by manufacturers from China. They are then prepared in their country of sale using a strong alcohol concoction or acetone solvents, that are more frequently used in potent cleaning products. Once the cannabinoids have soaked into the alcohol or acetone, this mix is either sprayed onto some kind of shredded herbal mix or allowed to soak into it.  

Synthetic cannabinoids


This relatively simple process is both quick and easy, but one thing it certain ut is not safe. Especially if prepared by an inexperienced or careless individual. One common error in producing fake pot is for the solution and herbal base to be poorly mixed or sprayed. This leads to certain areas of the batch being highly concentrated in cannabinoids and its chemical mix. When smoked, such concentrated areas can intensify the side effects and health risks inherent to synthetic marijuana. This causes serious damage to the person smoking it. Naturally, this is not the only potential problem arising from the creation of fake pot either,. The fact these substances are not ostensibly made for human consumption, means that the necessary safety measures and quality controls are not reliably implemented by manufacturers either.   

Synthetic marijuana is one of those cases where the warnings from your school, your parents, the media and the government are well worth listening to. If the urge to experience a new and nitro-boosted high occurs then pick a high-THC cannabis strain, or make some strong edibles. Just make sure you stick with the real thing instead of its chemically-saturated fake counterpart.  

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