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's often marketed directly to youth through sales in 3-ounce plastic pouches decorated with colorful designs, including cartoon characters and recognizable logos. It's 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 Administration (DEA), the full dangers 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 the use of synthetic marijuana, especially among young people, is becoming a serious issue. Synthetic drugs like fake weed or K2/Spice are being marketed directly to young people. These drugs are easily accessible and may be purchased in local convenience stores. 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 even deadly.
It's critical to keep these substances out of the hands of our youth. LOOK OUT FOR IT!
THE FACTS ABOUT FAKE WEED USE AMONG TEENS
• 1 in 9 high school seniors has used synthetic marijuana or fake weed in the past year, according to a Monitoring the Future survey of youth drug-use trends. Fake weed 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 Oct. 31, 2011.
• Synthetic marijuana is often marketed directly to youth through sales in 3-ounce plastic pouches decorated with colorful designs including cartoon characters or recognizable logos. It's sold in gas stations and convenience stores as potpourri or incense.
HEALTH EFFECTS OF FAKE WEED
Fake weed gives many users a “high” or feelings similar to those produced by marijuana, but because this synthetic drug contains harmful chemicals, users may also experience severely negative psychotic and health effects. Fake weed causes extreme anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks, alienation/disassociation, psychotic episodes and other negative health consequences 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's important for you to talk with your teen about fake weed. Chances are your teen may encounter fake weed at school, while hanging out with friends, or at parties. Or, they may know someone who's using fake weed. Take a moment to share information with your teen about the dangers of fake weed.
Below, 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 dangerous. • Getting high even once, and no matter how carries immediate and long-term risks. • Fake weed is a real drug with really dangerous side effects. • Like any drug, it's impossible to know what's in fake weed and how it will affect you.
SIGNS OF USE
It's important for you to talk with your teen about fake weed. Chances are your teen may encounter fake weed at school, while hanging out with friends or at parties. Or they may know someone who's using fake weed. Take a moment to share information with your teen about the dangers of fake weed. Equally important, look for the physical signs and changes in behavior that may signal your teen is using synthetic marijuana.
Below, signs to look for to determine if your teen may be using fake weed: • Small packets labeled “incense” or “potpourri” with colorful labels that may have cartoon characters or other recognizable logos • Strong clove smell • Pipes, rolling papers, screens, blunts, lighters/matches and other drug paraphernalia used for smoking
The physical signs of using fake weed include: • Agitation • Elevated blood pressure, heart rate and palpitations • Loss of control • Pale skin • Profuse sweating • Seizures • Vomiting
The physical effects of fake weed use develop fairly quickly, taking only three to five minutes to appear. However, symptoms can last from one to eight hours. The paranoia associated with fake weed is closer to the psychological reaction to PCP or angel dust.
WHAT ARE OTHER SYNTHETIC DRUGS
Synthetic drugs are chemical blends that mirror the effects of other well-known drugs like marijuana, ecstasy and cocaine. Fake weed, “bath salts” and “Molly” are all common synthetic drugs that are extremely harmful and unsafe for people to consume or ingest by smoking, drinking or eating.
Synthetic hallucinogens or stimulants can be found as pills, powders, crystals or liquids with names like “bath salts” and “Molly.”
The full danger of several of the synthetic chemicals that may be found in synthetic drugs has not yet been determined. The chemicals in these drugs means the effects could be deadly even if used only once.
SYNTHETIC DRUG LAWS
The D.C. Council has passed legislation banning the sale, possession or distribution of synthetic drugs.
The Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act is part of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act of 2012, signed into law by President Obama. The law permanently places 26 types of synthetic drugs into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has deemed it illegal to sell, buy or possess synthetic drugs because it contains Schedule I controlled substances.
States across the county continue to pass new laws in response to the numerous violent incidents and deaths blamed on synthetic drugs.