In the 1990’s John W. Huffman, a chemist at Clemson University was studying the brain’s receptors for marijuana use. Huffman created what is now called a synthetic marijuana, known as JWH 018, a compound that stimulates the same receptors in the brain that are activated by smoking marijuana.
“Fake weed” is herbal incense or an herbal mix potpourri that has been sprayed with synthetic marijuana. Fake weed contains no illegal substances but offers a way to get high that is almost identical to natural marijuana. This knock off weed is packaged and known by a variety of names with K2 and “spice incense” being a few of the popular ones.
Where Can Teens Buy K2 and Spice Incense?
Synthetic marijuana covered incense/potpourri is available on the street, in health stores, for purchase on the Internet and is sold at local head shops, stores that carry smoking paraphernalia. Selling K2 and spice incense is completely legal. There’s no age limit for buying herbal incense. The cost of fake weed is comparable to the price of actual marijuana. Teens may reason that they can get high at the same cost of buying real pot, pass any drug test and truly not do anything illegal.
But Huffman told Live Science that synthetic marijuana is ten times stronger than THC, the natural compound found in natural marijuana. So what does that mean to teens smoking fake marijuana? It means that teens might be smoking less K2 or spice incense to get high than if using real marijuana. The fake stuff could be more cost effective to use. But Huffman warns that no official testing has been done on JWH 018 and the health risks that synthetic marijuana poses.
What are the Side Effects of Fake Weed?
Teens smoking K2 incense or any incense containing synthetic marijuana definitely get the intended result – they get high, but additional side effects are being reported. The extra side effects from using fake weed are proving to be very different from using natural marijuana.
Dr. Anthony Scalzo, director of the Missouri Regional Poison Control Center has documented at least thirty cases of adverse side effects from teens smoking K2 and spice incense. This is reported in the CBS News article "Fake Weed K2 Can Cause Hallucinations" on March 4, 2010. Parents should look for the following signs:
- Pale skin
- Severe Agitation
- Elevated heart rate