Indian love for spices in their cooking is well known. However, there is a new kind of spice that has taken everyone by surprise. This SPICE is a synthetic marijuana, also known as ‘fake weed’! After widespread use in UK and Europe, it is now surging in Mumbai based on false claims of having a herbal origin and being a ‘legal high’. Being strong (in its effect) and cheap to buy, this fake weed smoking is on the rise. And with increasing popularity of e-cigarettes or vaping pens, smoking the liquid form of synthetic marijuana is also a fast-rising trend, replacing smoking, especially in high schools and universities and amongst young adults. But most people have no idea how this awful synthetic drug is affecting millions of people all over the world.

What Is Spice/Fake Weed Made Of?

The name is a misnomer, as it is not derived from the cannabis plant and has effects that are grossly different from marijuana smoking. Spice is produced to look like weed, by spraying synthetic cannabinoids (which have mind-altering properties) on dried plant material and chopped up herbs. This drug is significantly more potent than the cannabis and can be lethal in large doses. Weed or natural marijuana gains its mind-altering effects from a chemical known as THC. On the other hand, synthetic marijuana is coated with synthetic cannabinoids – a family of over 700 research chemicals. Since it is chemically made from a variety of different chemicals, each batch is different and can lead to various symptoms in individuals consuming it. Spice has over 600 aliases, but most common names under which its sold are Black mamba, K2 or ‘Zombie’. 

What Does It Do to You?

It is reported to cause trance-like state and turn the consumer into walking dead. User have reported that “spice can make hours seem like minutes, days seem like hours, and months seem like days”. Combine these feelings with profound mental blackouts for hours on end; it isn’t difficult to understand why someone going through stress in life would find the drug appealing. It is said to be about 100 times more potent than cannabis and causes a host of psychiatric complications such as severe anxiety, depression, paranoia, suicidal thoughts and psychosis (in the form of hallucinations and delusions). Also, it has physical health hazard including high blood pressure, heart attack, kidney failure, convulsion and death. Also, being synthetic and containing a variety of chemical combinations, it is not detected by a standard drug screening test, thereby adding to the appeal amongst youngsters for getting high without risk of being caught.

Final Point to Note 

Little is known about the long-term effects of synthetic cannabis since these products have only been in widespread recreational use in Europe since around 2008. We hope you don’t wait to find out. New York Times, 1934, quoted"Marijuana, when mixed with hay, causes death to the horses that eat it."  With spice, it's even more, worrying as the hay is sprayed with chemicals! It never too late to contemplate seeking help. If you or someone you know is struggling with spice or other drugs, then there are organisations that can help right now. With proper guidance and support from trained mental health professionals as well as backing from family and friends, a recovery is always possible. Don’t wait for a fresh start!