It seems that “fake marijuana” continues to be a problem with adolescents. In March of 2011 the DEA took emergency action to control five chemicals used to make so-called “fake pot”. This action made possessing and/or selling these products illegal in the U.S. These chemicals are now designated as Schedule 1 substances, which is the most restrictive category under the controlled substances act.
But a recent online article in Pediatrics reported several case studies of adolescents presenting to ER’s with various unexplained and disturbing symptoms. In each of the cases the teens had a history of smoking “fake pot” sometimes alone, and sometimes with marijuana as well. This fake pot often goes by the name, Spice, K-2, Aroma, Blaze, and Dream. The fake cannabinoids are not detectable on a routine drug screen. This makes it even more confusing and difficult for ER doctors to determine the cause of some of the behaviors being seen after smoking or ingesting “fake pot”.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers has reported over 4500 calls involving synthetic cannabinoids (marijuana) since 2010. These “fake pot” products are often a blend of plant and herbal materials that are then sprayed with one of the active chemicals (that were outlawed last year) which results in the marijuana like high as well as other symptoms as well. Reports of high blood pressure, high heart rates, seizures and catatonic like states are now in the medical literature. There have even been adolescent deaths reported after the use of these “fake marijuana” substances. There is still speculation that Demi Moore was using some sort of “fake pot” prior to her seizure and call to 911.
Unfortunately, despite the DEA’s attempts at controlling the chemicals used to make “fake pot” the makers of these drugs are “crafty and clever” about getting around the law. They may change the chemicals used to stay ahead of the DEA’s restrictions, or market them as incense which is not for human consumption. In either case, the makers of the drug are staying one step ahead of the DEA and the synthetic “fake pot” is still widely available, and may even be as close as your neighborhood convenience store! These products may easily be ordered on line.
Younger tweens and teens are also hearing that these “fake marijuana” products are safer and cannot be detected if used. It is incumbent that parents continue to discuss drug use as well as the dangers of “fake pot”. A young unsuspecting teen may not even understand what is in these products and that even if “not illegal” smoking or ingesting them may lead to serious and possibly life threatening side effects.
Parents, talk to your kids about this…it can be a matter of life or death.
That’s your daily dose for today. We’ll chat again tomorrow.