You may hear conflicting information about fake weed/synthetic marijuana, where it’s purchased and how it affects your child. Here’s what you need to know:
What is Fake Weed
Fake weed, also known as K2/Spice, legal bud, and synthetic marijuana is an herbal mixture that contains dried, shredded plant material and harmful chemical additives. It is often marketed directly to youth through sales in three-ounce plastic pouches decorated with colorful designs including cartoon characters and recognizable logos and sold in gas stations and convenience stores as potpourri or incense. These synthetic chemical compounds are extremely harmful and unsafe for people to consume or ingest by smoking, drinking or eating, although many users smoke it like marijuana. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the full danger of synthetic chemicals that may be found in fake weed has not yet been fully determined.
Fake Weed in DC
The DC Department of Health recognizes that use of synthetic marijuana, especially among young people, is becoming a serious issue. Further, these synthetic drugs, such as fake weed or K2/Spice, are marketed directly to young people. These drugs are easily accessible and may be purchased in a local convenience store. While the long-term effects of these types of drugs are not yet fully understood, the immediate effects are known and can be severely harmful.
It is critical to keep these substances out of the hands of our youth. LOOK OUT FOR IT!
The Facts about Fake Weed Use Among Teens
• One in nine high school seniors has used synthetic marijuana or fake weed in the past year, according to the Monitoring the Future survey of youth drug-use trends. It now ranks as the second most frequently used illegal drug among high school seniors, after marijuana.
• Poison Control Centers are reporting that calls related to synthetic marijuana have doubled between 2010 and 2011 with more than 5,500 calls as of October 31, 2011.
• Synthetic marijuana is often marketed directly to youth through sales in three-ounce plastic pouches decorated with colorful designs including cartoon characters or recognizable logos. It is sold in gas stations and convenience stores as potpourri or incense.
Public Health Effects of Fake Weed
Fake weed gives many users a “high” or feelings similar to those produced by marijuana, but because fake weed contains harmful chemicals, users may also experience severely negative psychotic and health effects. Fake weed causes extreme anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks, alienation/disassociation, psychotic and health effects. This behavior has been labeled the “zombie” effect. The harmful chemicals in fake weed also cause rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, tremors and seizures, which often send users to the emergency room for treatment.
Talk to Your Teen about Fake Weed
It is important for you to talk with your teen about fake weed. Chances are your teen may encounter fake weed at school, hanging out with friends or at parties. Or they may know someone who is using fake weed. Take a moment to share information with your teen about the dangers of fake weed. Below are a few key messages that you can use to talk with your teen.
• I want you to be healthy and happy.
• Smoking, drinking, eating or shooting anything that changes your feelings or behavior is a danger.
• Getting high, even once—no matter how—carries immediate and long-term risks.
• Fake weed is a real drug with really dangerous side effects.
• Like any drug, it is impossible to know what is in fake weed and how it will affect you.
Signs of Use
Some signs to look for to determine if your teen may be using fake weed include:
- Small packets labeled “incense” or “potpourri” with colorful labels that may have cartoon characters or other recognizable logos
- Strong clove smell
- Since fake weed is typically smoked, look for pipes, rolling papers, screens, blunts, lighters/matches and other drug paraphernalia
The physical signs include:
- Elevated blood pressure, heart rate, and palpitations
- Loss of control
- Pale skin
- Profuse sweating
The physical effects of fake weed are fairly quick taking only three to five minutes, but can last from one to eight hours. The paranoia associated with fake weed is closer to the psychological reaction to PCP or angel dust.