Spice – The cheap cannabis imitator has dangerous effects

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EL PASO — The cheap synthetic alternative to marijuana popularly known as K2 or Spice can be extremely hazardous to your health.

“I thought it was just people exaggerating about the side effects and how strong it was. It was kind of an out-of-body experience. Everything was moving so slow. After about three minutes I started panicking because I could feel my heart beating really fast, and I couldn’t calm myself down,” said Alexandra McGoldrick, the spouse of a member of the military previously stationed at Fort Bliss. “That was the last time I ever touched Spice even when my husband insisted,” she added.

Spice drug

Spice_drug by Schorle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Spice is a synthetic cannabis that is considered by some a “safe” alternative to weed, while producing similar experiences to marijuana. When it was still legal, Spice could be purchased at gas stations, head shops, convenience stores, and online which resulted in a major increase in its popularity. The drug was first detected in 2008 in the United States by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), but didn’t gain popularity until late 2010 and early 2011.

The labels on Spice claim that the product contains natural psychoactive material taken from plants and that is why it is referred to as a safe alternative. But experiments show that although Spice does contain material from dried plants, its active ingredients are designer chemicals such as HU-210, which has a similar effect as THC found in marijuana.

Update: Synthetic marijuana continues to claim victims who don’t realize its dangers

According to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Spice users have reported that their experiences after consumption consist of elevated moods, relaxation, altered perception and some claim that the symptoms hit harder than marijuana. The most common effects from the drug are anxiety, paranoia, nausea and hallucinations.

DEA experts claim that Spice is 200 times more potent than marijuana to the brain and organs, which can threaten mental health. Because so little is known about Spice and the manufacturers are always changing the chemicals they use to make it’s not known what long-term affects the drug can have on the body. Poison Control Center statistics show that 2,906 calls were made involving Spice in 2010, and twice that number, 6,959, in 2011. The majority of those calls were reported as stroke or seizure activity because of the massive increase in heart rate caused by Spice.

A 22-year-old Army Sergeant stationed at Fort Bliss and former user of Spice said in the past he would buy Spice from a convenience store in El Paso.

“My friend knew a guy that worked at that store, and before they raided the store for Spice he stole a lot of the product and started selling it from his car so that is where we got it from after shops started getting raided,” said former Sergeant Caleb Hunter.

The synthetic marijuana could be purchased for a mere $10 at any of the locations where it was once sold, according to Hunter. The easy availability and low price contributed to the drug’s popularity among teenagers. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 11.4 percent of high school seniors used Spice in 2011 making it the second most common drug used by high school students behind marijuana.

Another reason for its popularity is that Spice is not detected in standard drug tests and users often believe that it is safe or natural because of the failure to trigger a positive response in a urine drug test.

“All the people in the military that I know, including my husband, would smoke Spice to avoid coming up positive in the drug test,” McGoldrick said. “They would say it was the closest thing to weed they could smoke without getting in trouble with the military.”

As a result, in February 2011, Secretary of the Army John McHugh issued a memorandum adopting an Army-wide policy prohibiting the use of Spice or any drug mimicking marijuana for military personnel.

The order banning Spice use among the military was followed by a nationwide sweep for Spice by the DEA on March 1, 2011. Legal penalties for possessing the drug include jail time and a $4,000 fine.

But Chris Rojas, a sales clerk from Bo-De-Gas Graff/Headshop, said that, “there are loopholes to selling Spice. Shops will claim that it is herbal incense or plant food that is not for human consumption but we all know that it is Spice.”

Following the DEA sweep for Spice, the United States Government implemented the Federal Analog Act, which basically bans drugs with chemistry and effects similar to illegal drugs but only if intended for human consumption. According to Rojas, the reason Spice has a label with printed letters saying “not for human consumption” is to avoid the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) getting involved.

According to the DEA, there have been no reported deaths from overdose. In an interview with an El Paso drug counselor, who does not want to be identified, the woman said: “This drug is no joke. It cannot be taken lightly. We know very little to nothing about the drug chemically because the chemists are constantly mixing who knows what in the drug. Just because you can get your hands on it as easy as marijuana does not mean it is marijuana. One patient I treated (in El Paso) is now suffering from heart problems due to Spice.”

Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say Spice can be addictive if used frequently just like most other drugs, and it is possible to increase tolerance for it. “I guess because my husband smoked it for so long he became addicted to it, McGoldrick said. “I think he thought he knew how to control it, but that one time I was there with (my husband and his friend) they both had harsh side effects where they couldn’t even walk straight.”

McGoldrick said during one episode her husband’s heart was beating so fast he panicked and began saying he was going to die. “He was having an anxiety attack and wanted to call the ambulance. He would even have hallucinations sometimes saying he was seeing things and would talk to himself or the hallucinations. I don’t think it is a safe drug. Especially since I have seen firsthand what it can do to you,” said McGoldrick who used Spice once with her husband.

The Department of Justice in December 2011 issued a nationwide sweep of synthetic drugs off the market making them illegal to possess, sell, or consume. According to the Food and Drug Administration and Safety Innovation Act, the only problem is that the manufacturers of Spice are substituting different chemicals in their mixtures to evade the DEA restrictions altogether.

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28 Comments

  1. In addition to the many economical and societal costs of prohibition, it has a long history of driving the spread of harder or more dangerous drugs.

    MARIJUANA to dangerous synthetic concoctions —such as AM-2201, JWH-018, JWH-073, or HU-210, (called Spice or K2 etc.)
    POPPIES to morphine, to heroine, to krokodil.
    COCA to cocaine, to crack, to Paco/Kete/Bazuco/Pitillo.
    EPHEDRA to ephedrine, to methamphetamine.
    MUSHROOMS to ecstasy (MDMA), to PMMA, to MDPV, to 2CB/designers.

    At every step the reasons for the rise in popularity of the new form of the drug are one or more of the following:

    * It may be easier to smuggle.
    * It may be more addictive, thus compelling the buyer to return more frequently.
    * It may be cheaper to produce, therefore yielding more profit.
    * Like a game of “whack a mole” a shutdown of producers in one area will mean business opportunities for another set of producers with a similar product.

    Prohibition’s distortion of the immutable laws of ‘supply and demand’ subsidizes organized crime, foreign terrorists, corrupt cops, and unconscionable politicians, while feeding the prejudices of self-appointed culture warriors everywhere. So called Tough-On-Drugs politicians have happily built careers on confusing prohibition’s horrendous collateral damage with the substances that they claim to be fighting while the big losers in this battle are everybody else, especially we the taxpayers.

    So how come so many of us have been deluded into believing that big government is the appropriate response to non-traditional consensual vices?

    Imagine if we were to chop down every single tree on the planet as a response to our failure to prevent tree-climbing accidents. That’s what our misguided drug policy looks like.
    Isn’t it time we all stood up and told the government, we’re tired of being beaten and jailed so that pharmaceutical companies can poison and kill us for obscene profits?

    Prohibition prevents regulation: Legalize, regulate and tax!

  2. I’ve been smoking spice EVERY single day for the past 4 months . Yes , it most definitely is addicting . If I don’t smoke it now , ill get super bad headaches to the point where I want to cry . I’m having so many withdraws , it sucks . I do not recommend smoking spice to anyone .

  3. I used spice as well for a long time to evade drug tests. This drug made me so dilusional, I was thinking I had a personality disorder at one time, and i didnt want to leave my house because of it. A few times I tried it, it made me so jittery I was shaking and couldnt think or sit down… this drug made me believe something was being put in it, maybe laced. Laced with methamphetamine I believed. I believe if more tests are ran, that small fragments of all sorts of drugs will be found, meth, coke, even heroin. This is just an opinion, but I would be surprised if im wrong.

  4. I smoke spice, have been for about 3 years now. I WANT TO STOP. I did stop for about 5 months and I was so proud of myself. And then…. UGH! I smoked again and have been for almost a month now. The issues that I have had with it is YES, it is addicting. My additude is whack when I want it and don’t have it. It makes me want to sleep ALL DAY and then wake up and smoke again and then, yes you guessed it, sleep. I gained weight smoking bc it gives me the muchies x1000!! Old fillings have feel out in my mouth causing me to get dental work. This is NOT were its at. Please don’t smoke it, try it or recommend it to others.

  5. My husband has been smoking spice since last October, his business suffered, he got panic attacks, anxiety, serious depression, mood swings, vomiting, body aches, weakness, stayed away & lost contact with friends & family, etc…he always smoked pot before & got spice because it was cheaper but after smoking it for awhile he claimed that really weed had no effects so would smoke at the same time to get the high from spice. He had withdrawls when he tried to quit but it was great to see him getting back to himself & I can tell in the last month that he must be smoking it again….please stay away from spice & if you want to stop, get help because you can’t on your own. Only your loved ones who can see the real difference in you & you MUST trust them when they say so.

  6. i smoke it every day, have been for about 3 months and one night about 3 weeks ago i was sittin out side, had my headphones in listening to silent by fallujah(if you know the song youll understan my experience). i took about 6 hits from my pipe and sat there. after 30 sec i closed my eyes and became real focused on the darkness from my eyes being closed. i felt like i was searching for something in the darkness like i had to find something. with my eyes closed the word “BELIEVE” appeared and it was glowing. it shattered and became all these different colors which then led to me having kaleidoscope vision. it was like i was traveling in a tunnel made of rainbows. the whole hallucination lasted about 40 seconds and then i opened my eyes,it was over. i could feel my heart beating rapidly so i went inside. i kept trying to figure out wtf happened so i just came to the conclusion that i was tripping balls off this shit. ive since smoked it again in the same scenario but nothing happens i just get real high. no hallucinations though.

  7. My husband was in the military stationed in Fort Irwin around this same time period. Spice was running rampant and EVERY soldier I knew including my own husband was smoking this.

    They told me it was just like MJ but doesn’t pop up in piss tests. So naturally I was intrigued and wanted to try this LEGAL weed! I mean wow what a neat concept that sounds too good to be true!… Well it was too good to be true.

    I smoked it for a few months with my husband and our room mate and during that time my depression worsened, I tried to kill myself THREE times, I ran down the road having a temper tantrum and screaming simply because someone hurt my feelings, I felt sicker, had NO energy, I couldn’t remember anything or think right, and on a few occasions, I would just stare at our room mate drooling and then fall over my husband and pass out (Room mate who was also smoking doesn’t remember this happening either!) and I did have that hear racing feeling that makes you think you are going to die!

    The problem is that it also made me delusional. I had no clue it was the spice until my Mom looked it up on google and sent me some informational emails… So I quit… which was very hard and it hurt.

    NOW I smoke marijuana even though i’m not supposed to legally because I feel safer and healthier. My depression and anxiety are gone and so is my insomnia which is why I smoke it in the first place. I have NEVER had these horrible spice induced experiences with marijuana and on the occasion that I want to quit… it’s fricken easy to do!

    I also have a few Veteran friends who moved up here from Fort Irwin and they recently discovered it’s become harder to get spice (THANK GOD) so they switched to pot.

    Already they seem to have more color in their faces and their overall attitude towards life seems to be improving. One even told me he sleeps so much better now. The spice was causing his insomnia and the MJ has fixed it.

    So yeah this is definitely a drug that I will be happy to see on the illegal drugs list! This stuff is horrible and dangerous… Please for the love of God STAY AWAY FROM SPICE!!!!!

  8. This stuff is the worst. You might as well drink nail polish remover cause that’s what they are dissolving the synthetic cannabinoids in so they can spray it on the leaves. Crazy stuff. Whatever you do, do not smoke spice.

  9. My brother is currently in the icu on a ventilator with 3 brain contusions in different areas… The reason, spice. He had a major seizure, fell and hit his head, and here we are. This stuff is seriously so bad and it should be illegal.

  10. its virtually impossible to find cannabis right now and everyone who says they will hook you up steals your money. Then after an elaborate theft by a homeless man, he told me about spice. I entertained the idea and its fun for a few minutes but overall its shit, like smoking a whole carton of cigs. I hate to say I need to move (to washington) I have used cannabis all my twenty seven years of life medicinally and hate how there’s so many thieves and liers around right now.

  11. im a teenager and i did it the first time it had no effect on me so i tried some more the second day and i felt like i was going to fall i was hallucinating and was very scared when people tried to touch me i knew i had to go to the hospital but i thought it would go away but because im so small it lasted for at least 2 or 3 hours i ended up going to the hospital dont do it

  12. After reading all these stories of all these people that went throught the same horrid ordeal that I too went through makes me feel so proud to have finally seen my last day with that evil product. I have a lot to say of how negatively it impacted my life. To say a bit about myself, I’m happily married with two kids, and I pray to God to forgive for my sin to have ever laid my hands on spice or whatever people call it now a days.
    I remember the fiirst time I smoked, I was always a good kid, always listening to mom and dad, study hard, party safe, do things for the right reason. But once I had moved out and started my early young adult life I seemed to attract the wrong crowd. And eventually my peeps introduced me to spice.I was very intrigued to smoke something that was not illegal but still got you high, I had never been high in my life so I said lets do it. After that day I would smoke that stuff about 5days if not the whole week at least once a day for about 3 years. It was cool being young and going to parties in a mellow mindset, we would smoke very little before any trip to clubs or bars, get to the parking lot, hot box, put some eye drops in and bam, no one would ever assume we we’re high. But eventually I started noticing that my friends never stopped smoking it about a year after we started. I stopped using it after I felt I was going to have a seizure one time after peaking on the effects of it, it felt as if all the veins in my neck on the left half you could say, felt like it was being yanked downward into my body, also feeling my left eye being sucked into the socket. After that I quit for about two months. But my friends still continued to smoke religiously, and at that point I knew they were addicted. They would always be broke since that stuff was expensive,they seemed like they had no care other than basic needs like eating, and getting off work to get high. I felt scared for them because they couldn’t see how past they have crossed the line of being an addict to spice. One of my friends told me he would smoke with his wife and that when they both smoke and had sex that it was the most amazing thing. Eventually he told me that he saw an adult rated movie while being high, and he had the crazy idea that he wanted me to have sex with his wife. I knew it was the spice getting his morals all jacked up. I knew my friend would never of said that if he was sober, and after thinking about it i came up with my final conclusion about this drug. It is straight from hell, not only does it ruin your morals and personality like some other people have mentioned, or kill people or ruin people’s lives, its ruining our society and our youth that find their hands on it. Please spread the word that this designer drug is more like playing Russian roulette.

  13. this drug is horrible! I remember I smoked it all the time with my brother back in the day. I honestly felt one time; I was so hi; that my very brain was drying up in my skull. I heard weird sounds and voices. little lights would pop in front of my eyes; that I might add were bone dry. Then I threw up in my glass of Arizona ice tea. It’s horrible and dangerous and I praye to God we get that garbage out of this world. You don’t need or want it trust me. It’s scary. I would sith on the toilet and trip balls. One time I looked in the bathroom mirror. The sun was shining through the window and it was making a glair in the glass. I could hear a loud buzzing screaming noise in my head that vibrated my eardrumbs and spunn round and round in my head and ears. I thought I’d screwed myself up bad. Stay the hell away from this evil horrible drug!! It is not fun!

  14. Fxxk this drug.
    When i smoked it i got scared as fxxk.
    I went to mcdonalds to sleep it off and on the way there i felt like my whole mouth dryed out and i couldnt talk straight . I almost walked on the road infront of the cars cuz of my dizzyness.
    I had a bad case of paranoia and started thinking about death and almost cried.
    This is a fxxked up drug,
    PLEASE.
    Dont try it.

  15. wow this is pyscotic sounding im an avid pot smoker and have tried every drug you can list except strait heroin ive had the synthetic version of that oxycotton and i am able to drop them like their nothing so the thought that a synthetic marijana could do this to ppl is crazy i cant understand how ppl get adicted to things only adictive thing ive found in this world is cigerets. Like i said ive done meth, coke, crack, weed, alcoholl, oxy, ridelen, extacy, magic mushrooms, ect, you name it ive tried it. I always resurched drugs first before i tried them, and never has the sideffects made me decide to not try it, but i must say from what ive read here and on several other sites i do not intend to try this. I was looking into it as i cant curently affored weed to smoke do to my roomate moving out. I have adhd and they dont prescribe weed for it despite that it alleviates every negative symptom i have from my adhd, including insomnia, multi-threaded thought proccess (making it dificult to do just one thing at a time), depresion, lack of intrest, lack of appitite, anger ishues, the list goes on and all seems to stem mainly from my adhd and frustrations that come from it causing most of the upove listed symptoms. Now the drug they prescribe for this is a riddilin and simaler drugs that act and effect you like methamphetamine, and is just plain retarted to prescribe for adhd as its simaler to flooding your car engine to come to a stop, yes it works but its terible onthe engine, not to mention when i did try to use riddilin for my adhd i ended up hearing voices and having complete shutdowns where all i would do is sit/lay and think, but with weed i can take a few hits and feel like a normal person and slowdown my thoughts so i can focus on

  16. johnnynuemonic on

    whatever..y’all are weak.. that’s the problem with folks..everyone wants to abuse things ..anything can be abused..money, power, greed, work, religion. Hell..do anything in a compulsive obsessive manner to the point of insanity and it will kill. I smoked spice..when it got bad and it started to make me sick. I stopped. duh. and then i’ve smoked it on and off and quit .. hell..I’ve done coke, crack, meth and all sorts of nasty shit. and I’m healthy..mentally fine, career orientated military soldier. never been caught.. and I smoke weed too.. when I can and when I’m not on duty..the difference between me and these other fools is I choose not to let other things destroy my life. I control me. I smoke cigarettes too… the key is MODERATION people cmon…stop being stupid. Balance is the key to life. I eat healthy and take care of my body and don’t do anything in excess. I don’t know why folks don’t have control over there impulses and urges and let there own bodies and minds destroy themselves.. it just doesn’t make sense to me. Why you wanna mess yourself up, if something is messing you up that bad..then why r u doing it? I do it cause it’s fun..when the fun stops..so do I. It’s just common sense. I don’t drink in excess either..cause I don’t like hangovers..but I like drinking! Even major cigarette companies will tell you smoking doesn’t cause cancer ..in moderation..but these fools smoke 2 packs a day..what do you expect..? I smoke like a pack a week and run like a champ..I would say find blance peace and harmony in your life and you will find happiness. The things that makes these things evil is the same things that’s wrong with America today.. excessive compulsion.

  17. I have watched people start smoking this and within a year, one had lost his home because his mortgage payment was used to buy spice, another person lost interest in everything, including her child, who is now being taken care of by grandparents and there are plenty more things that have happened as a result of using spice. They vomit after smoking, one has a horrible cough that does not go away or get any better, they don’t care about anything they once did, they are anti social, they are mean and have even acquired violent tendencies when made mad, they have no money, they don’t care about their appearance, they slur their speech and walk crooked, their eyes look like they could almost drip blood, they are so scattered they don’t know where anything is, they don’t remember anything, all of their belongings that were once in good condition are now torn up, if not destroyed or lost…..it’s a pretty messed up life.

  18. My family spent all day yesterday in the ICU with my 18 year old nephew on life support and continuously having seizures. His roommate at college found him having seizures and unresponsive on his bed. The roommate said he had been smoking spice. The Dr.’s stated they didn’t know if he would make it. After 24 hours he was able to breath on his own, ripped all the IV needles out of his arms, and demanded to go back to his dorm. He didn’t remember anything after smoking the spice and wanted to go home to smoke some more. This is not the same loving nephew I just saw in December. He is totally gone. I am dreading the call that tells us he is dead, but I know it is coming. Please guys, don’t do this to your families. Their lives will never be the same without you.

  19. My daughter uses spice to avoid the “dirty u.a.” N get in trouble with her probation, although ppl say it is like marijuana it is NOT it gives ppl a horrible high after long time use, they are hallucinating and can cause harm to themselves or ppl around them. My daughter has since stop being the happy pretty girl everyone knew her as, she now looks like a tramp off the street! Dirty n bad appereance she lost her job, is on the edge of loosing her kids and what’s worst she can be losing her life. I hope that there is someway they can get this off the streets. I don’t want to see my grandaughters using this shit!

  20. A Wise Individual on

    Hello, I would like to inform all of you healthy happy people to not embark on this drug in any circumstance what so ever. Yes, it is legal. Yes, it will get you high. But the one important question of many is; Is it really worth it? I mean, I’ve had my ups and downs with this horrific drug. Hell I loved it more than I loved anything, honestly. The feeling was all too glorious to me, but, it didn’t last long. I smoked it for roughly a year, on and off. Whenever I could get my hands on it really, I smoked myself stupid. I couldn’t function worth anything. Thankfully, I stopped doing this drug. It took a large toll on my health, I would have severe panic attacks over small things. I wouldn’t be able to breathe, as if my lungs seized in my chest. I wouldn’t be able to remember anything I did literally twenty seconds after I did it, my thoughts were always unclear and foggy. I suffered horrible mood swings, I recall screaming and shouting at my relative because they did small things that irritated me. I couldn’t sleep at night either, couldn’t sleep because I was worried for my future and for what I was to become. I was paranoid beyond comprehension, and I suffered depression. I would have numerous suicidal thoughts because I wanted all these horrible, horrible effects to end. I never really felt as if I were myself. So let me ask that one key question again. Is it really worth it? I mean if some legal, cheap high is worth it to you, I would recommend help.

    So, I believe people addicted to this hellish drug should really try very hard to get rid of it. Go the whole nine yards, if your friends are getting high on this God forsaken drug. Leave them. You don’t need such negative conduct in your life, recommend help to them too. That’s what I did, and I’m glad I got rid of the stuff. I thank my lucky stars I’m alive and breathing at this very moment because I quit the deadly drug.

    The moral of this is, don’t do spice. Don’t do it ever in your life, it’s never a good idea. There are no plus sides to it. Get rid of it before it gets rid of you, because there are no doubts about it. If you are an avid user, and continue to be an avid user, you will most likely die because of this drug. May the poor souls who lost their lives to this drug rest in peace, and may the families of those poor individuals raise awareness of this drug to hopefully get rid of this horrid substance completely. Together we can overcome this, together we can get rid of it.

    Thank you for your time.

  21. I know of 2 people who die from one toke of it and should not be sold ill talk to 7 stste representatives today on this matter
    NO I HAVE NOT SMOKE THIS AND WONT

  22. ive been an active mj user up until 3 months ago becaause husband got a new job where they do random drug testing so a buddy told him to try some of this junk called 7h Kush is anybody familiar with that well we started smoking it in the first day I took two hits and I was paranoid trippin it was horrible I felt like I was going to die this morning I decided to do it I hit it one time and a little puff a second time I went back to sleep in the morning and I got up because I felt like my tongue was rolling back and I couldn’t breathe it was so scary I got up and started to brush my tongue with my toothbrush thinking that would help but my tongue looks swollen and just dangling out my mouthit is the scariest thing ever happened to me and as of today I quit I always have horrible headache and feel lost like I’m in a dream please don’t ever try this it is not anything good please share experiences if you have your tongue roll back as well

  23. Pingback: Spice - Synthetic marijuana continues to claim victims who don't realize its dangers - Borderzine

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