Synthetic Marijuana (Synthetic Cannabinoids)

What is it?
First Aid

What is synthetic marijuana?

Synthetic marijuana refers to a blend of herbs that have been coated with chemicals known as synthetic cannabinoids. These chemicals are similar to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical found in marijuana.

Synthetic cannabinoids are often marketed as “herbal incense” or “potpourri” to try to get around drug laws, with names like K2, Spice and Smacked. In most cases, synthetic cannabinoids are illegal under federal or state laws.

Synthetic cannabinoids are often more dangerous than marijuana.

What are the symptoms of using synthetic cannabinoids?

Synthetic cannabinoids are often more dangerous than marijuana. Many people who use them end up in the emergency department with serious heart problems or severe nervous reactions, such as paranoia or hallucinations.

Someone who has taken a synthetic cannabinoid may:

  • Throw up
  • Have a fast heart beat or high blood pressure
  • Feel very nervous or paranoid
  • See or hear things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Believe or think things that aren’t true (delusions)

Sometimes the hallucinations or delusions can last days or weeks after using the substance. These symptoms can be even worse if someone has a mental illness. 

Synthetic cannabinoids include a variety of chemicals, and each one can cause different effects. This can make it hard to predict what symptoms someone will have.

What can I do about synthetic cannabinoid poisoning?

If someone has taken synthetic marijuana, or if you have other questions about these drugs, call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222, chat online or text POISON to 85511.

If someone has passed out, is not breathing or is acting violently, call 911 right away.

Last Updated: Monday July 18th 2016