Synthetic Cannabinoids and fake weed activate two types of receptors: CB1 receptors, which are located within the nervous system, the brain and nerve endings, and CB2 receptors, which are found in the immune system.
Your brain creates its own set of cannabinoids (similar to those found in cannabis) via the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system, named after Cannabis sativa, is responsible for many important bodily functions, including appetite, sleep, emotion and movement.
Out of the many cannabinoids available, two stand out: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).
THC is known for its psychoactive properties, and is the reason you feel great after ingesting it. Most strains of marijuana sold on the market today, are cultivated with higher levels of THC. While THC has many medicinal benefits, too much can trigger anxiety and paranoia in some people, so be warned.
CBD is actually a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, and it actually works to calm your high. CBD is also said to have numerous medicinal benefits, such as anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to protect your neurons.
Synthetic cannabinoids are human-made mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices. These products are also known as herbal or liquid incense.
These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are similar to chemicals found in the marijuana plant. Because of this similarity, synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes misleadingly called synthetic marijuana or fake weed, and they are often marketed as safe, legal alternatives to that drug. In fact, they are not safe and may affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana; their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, more dangerous or even life-threatening.
Synthetic cannabinoids are part of a group of drugs called new psychoactive substances (NPS). NPS are unregulated mind-altering substances that have become newly available on the market and are intended to produce the same effects as illegal drugs. Some of these substances may have been around for years but have reentered the market in altered chemical forms, or due to renewed popularity.
Manufacturers sell these products in colorful foil packages and plastic bottles to attract consumers. They market these products under a wide variety of specific brand names. Hundreds of brands now exist, including K2, Spice, Joker, Black Mamba, Kush, and Kronic.
For several years, synthetic cannabinoid mixtures have been easy to buy in drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, gas stations, and over the internet. Because the chemicals used in them have no medical benefit and a high potential for abuse, authorities have made it illegal to sell, buy, or possess some of these chemicals. However, manufacturers try to sidestep these laws by changing the chemical formulas in their mixtures.
The most common way to use synthetic cannabinoids is to smoke the dried plant material. Users also mix the sprayed plant material with marijuana or brew it as tea. Other users buy synthetic cannabinoid products as liquids to vaporize in e-cigarettes.
Synthetic cannabinoids act on the same brain cell receptors as THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the mind-altering ingredient in marijuana.
Synthetic cannabinoid users report some effects similar to those produced by marijuana:
People who have used synthetic cannabinoids and have been taken to emergency rooms have shown severe effects including:
Synthetic cannabinoids can also raise blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart, as well as kidney damage and seizures. Use of these drugs is associated with a rising number of deaths.