What Is Synthetic Marijuana?

Synthetic Marijuana

What is synthetic marijuana? We hear this term tossed around a lot nowadays, but we rarely hear a definition for it. The tricky thing is, there are a lot of different kinds of synthetic marijuana, so there is no real, one, clear definition for the drug that defines all of them in one. As best as it can be narrowed down would be to say that:

Synthetic marijuana is any form of cannabis or marijuana-based product that has been chemically and synthetically altered by man to be more potent.

There are many different types of synthetic marijuana, with more being made each day with slightly altered chemical compositions to escape DEA restrictions and regulations. Spice is one kind of synthetic marijuana. K2 is another. Black Mamba and Crazy Clown are street names for such drugs. Synthetic marijuana is sometimes called synthetic cannabinoids as a more scientific term.

Common Questions About Synthetic Marijuana

People ask a lot of questions about synthetic marijuana, and understandably so. These are relatively new drugs on the “scene” and are therefore pretty unknown. Some of the most common questions are:

“Are synthetic marijuana drugs dangerous?”

Yes, they are. Calls to poison centers for synthetic marijuana have spiked by more than two-hundred percent in just one year between 2014 and 2015. The problem is that, when people take synthetic marijuana, they have no way of knowing what exactly they are getting. It’s a mystery drug. It could have anything added to it, and users have no way of discerning what those ingredients are.

“How is synthetic marijuana made?”

Different production processes vary depending on the location of where the drug is made, but most synthetic marijuana is made by mixing up mind-altering chemicals in a spray bottle, then spraying the concoction on marijuana plants or other plants. The liquid is soaked up into the marijuana leaf, making for a unique experience quite unlike simply smoking marijuana.

“Is synthetic marijuana legal?”

Technically? Yes. Some synthetic marijuana is crushed up and added to other products, then labeled as “herbal products.” Sometimes various labels like “plant food” or “incense” are put on them, with clear warning signs on the packaging reading, “Not for human consumption.” However, it is by these sneaky marketing tactics that manufacturers can sell such drugs at convenience stores and head shops. Sometimes, the synthetic concoction discussed above is sprayed onto any plant material, not marijuana leaves, to make the drugs truly free from all legal restrictions.

“Has anyone died from using synthetic marijuana?”

Yes. While deaths from marijuana are extremely rare, many people have already lost their lives due to health complications sustained while abusing synthetic marijuana. Most of them died from agitation of the heart and lungs, breathing problems, or a severely high heart rate.

“Are synthetic marijuana products addictive?”

Yes. Marijuana itself is arguably addictive, and the potency of the chemicals put into synthetic marijuana are such that they form chemical dependence and psychological habits in the user.

Preventing Synthetic Marijuana Use

Preventing synthetic marijuana use is a tricky endeavor. The drug is relatively new, and most law enforcement organizations have not yet worked out how exactly to enforce the drug and how to make it fully illegal. Going forward, preventing drug use in this category comes down to really educating people about the negative effects of such drug use.

When people know the risks involved with synthetic marijuana, they are less likely to consume the substance. When they do not know about them, they can be more easily peer pressured into their use. Education is the best tool for defeating this new type of drug.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.