In recent years, dangerous synthetic drugs have been flooding the streets and sending droves to hospitals. These things have names like “Spice,” “K2,” “Bath Salts,” and “Flakka.” But the most dangerous name for these toxic substances is often the most common: “Synthetic Weed.”

Kids, parolees, job hunters, and many others are turning to these manmade drugs, looking for a legal substitute to marijuana. In reality, they’re getting something much, much worse.

Why “Synthetic Weed” Is Nothing Like Weed

One of the biggest dangers of drugs like K2 is the difference between what you expect and what you get. Many approach these synthetic drugs looking for the same high, minus the legal and professional troubles that come with smoking the real thing. However, many of these synthetic marijuana substitutes have little in common with actual cannabis, if anything at all.

The high someone gets from smoking marijuana comes from THC, a naturally occurring chemical. These synthetic alternatives rely on synthetic cannabinoids to achieve their intoxicating effect. While the packaging for these drugs may try to tell you they’re all natural, they’re not. These synthetic cannabinoids are actually just chemicals designed to mimic THC. They can be effective to a fault.

Whereas THC is a partial agonist, synthetic cannabinoids act as full agonists. This means that they trigger much stronger brain reactions than regular marijuana. While they both activate the same part of the brain, the effect is different.

“Synthetic cannabinoids are tailor-made to hit cannabinoid receptors—and hit hard. This is NOT marijuana, says Paul Prather, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. “Its action in the brain may be similar, but the physical effect is so different.”

It’s easy to think that this would just mean a greater high. But the “stronger” effect ultimately acts as a poison in your body. It can trigger intense reactions, such as psychosis, rapid heartbeat, hallucinations, kidney damage, and even stroke.

Know Your Synthetic Drugs

To fight back against legal bans and Texas drug laws, manufacturers of synthetic cannabis constantly tweak the formula to dodge the laws. The basic effects are the same, but these repurposed and repackaged drugs are varying degrees of awful for the user.

To keep you from making a costly mistake, we’ve broken down the most common synthetic drugs by name and effect.

  • Flakka: Although it hasn’t been on the market for very long, Flakka has already made several headlines. It has effects that are more similar to meth and PCP than they are to marijuana. This synthetic compound contributed to as many as 63 deaths in Florida since 2014. While it’s largely illegal, new forms of Flakka are constantly appearing in the market, as the DEA works to ban it altogether.
  • Bath Salts: While the name may sound relaxing, the results are not. Despite its reputation for turning people into the walking dead, many are using bath salts as an alternative high. Like Flakka, bath salts can lead to intense psychosis. Plus, they cause elevated blood pressure, chest pains, and suicidal thoughts.
  • Spice: The one that started it all. While not exactly legal in Texas, these deceptive “weed alternatives” still pop up in gas stations. They are often sold illegally. They may look like marijuana, but these synthetic herbs have much more pronounced effects on your body. Among the 500 street names for these synthetic cannabinoids, K2 and Space Cadet are among the most common.

If you’re currently on probation, looking for a job, or merely looking for a new kind of kick, synthetic drugs are most assuredly not the way to go. Whatever you do, always make sure you know what you’re taking. And don’t be afraid to seek help if things start to go wrong. A trip to the hospital is better than a trip to jail, or worse, the morgue.

If you do find yourself facing drug charges of any kind, don’t let yourself get lost in the legal system. Mark Thiessen and the team at Thiessen Law Firm are among Houston’s most aggressive criminal attorneys, and will fight tirelessly to protect your rights and get you back to your regular life. Whether you’re facing possession, DWI, theft, or any other criminal charge, contact us for a free consultation today.

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Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.