Question: I don’t like my boyfriend taking drugs so he switched from marijuana to Spice. He tells me it is like marijuana but is not marijuana. He tells me that he passed a drug test after smoking it, so I’m not sure, is it a drug or not?
Answer: The difference between Marijuana and Spice is: you know what you’re getting with marijuana. Known as K2 and Spice, among other names, synthetic marijuana can have more serious consequences than regular marijuana. These synthetic cannabinoids are a blend of plant and herbal materials that have been sprayed with chemicals, producing an extra toxicity, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Because it’s a ‘street drug’ there is no quality control or consistency in the mix of chemicals contained in each package. A user can smoke Spice one time without dramatic consequences and end up trembling, speechless, convulsing and catatonic the next. Spice produces psychoactive effects on the mind and, what makes matters worse, very little is known about how to treat an adverse reaction or overdose.
Easy access and the misperception that Spice products are ‘natural’ and therefore harmless have contributed to their popularity and pose a very real danger. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the number of calls to poison centers related to synthetic drugs soared more than 400% in 2011 alone. Because the chemicals used in these products have a high potential for abuse and no medical benefit, the DEA has banned 26 compounds as Schedule I controlled substances, making it illegal to sell, buy, or possess them. Governor Brewer banned the compounds in 2011 and updated the State’s definition of the chemical configurations that makeup the Spice drug ban, this past April.
Although Spice is not easily detected in standard drug tests, we can run specific tests to detect it. Your boyfriend moved from a drug with familiar effects to one with unpredictable consequences.