What Does 'Synthetic' Mean?
Synthetic cannabis traffickers continue to explore loopholes in the legal definition of ‘synthetic’ to sell their products. When synthetic cannabis use was first addressed by lawmakers in 2013, only 19 substances were blacklisted. The list has since been increased with more names added every day as dealers continue to deploy new ingredients to pass their synthetic cannabis as legal products.
Currently, authorities identify synthetic cannabis as artificial compounds capable of depressing or exciting the central nervous system.
According to Police Minister Lisa Nevill, authorities need "a very specific definition" for synthetic cannabis that’ll cover just about any new substance that will emerge in the future.
Synthetic cannabis is usually marketed as ‘herbal’ smoking mixtures comprising dried herbs or vegetables. These herbs are laced with ‘synthetic cannabinoids’, though that isn’t usually reflected on the product’s ingredient list. The fact that the labeling doesn’t necessarily portray the accurate composition of the products is a huge risk factor in the use of synthetic cannabis.
For all we know, we’re oblivious to the toxic substances from pesticides to caustic solvents like acetone and methanol, etc. contained in a synthetic cannabis product. Flaws in the production processes can also cause an uneven concentration of toxic compounds in packages in a product batch. This can cause a serious tragedy for the unfortunate user who ends up with the concentrated package.
To boot, the pace at which new substances are introduced into the markets significantly outstrips the rate of studies on synthetic cannabis.
The Risks and Issues Associated with Synthetic Cannabis
Although synthetic cannabis is designed to mimic the effects of natural cannabis inside the body, its physiological and health effects are a far cry from those of cannabis. For one, they have absolutely no proven therapeutic benefits. Since they’re made to be many times more potent than natural cannabis, users can easily overdose and expose themselves to the unpleasant, harmful effects of excessive use.
A number of deaths have even been reported in relation to synthetic cannabis consumption. More studies are still needed to determine the exact causal process involved in the fatal use of synthetic cannabis. But so far, anecdotal and clinical evidence have identified a long list of side-effects of synthetic cannabis consumption. The list includes:
- lightheadedness, dizziness, and distress
- extreme agitation and aggressiveness
- mood swings
- anxiety and paranoia
- mood swings
- anxiety and paranoia
- suicidal thoughts
- short-term and long-term memory loss
- nausea and vomiting
- extreme increases in heart rate and blood pressure
- effusive sweating
- numbness of fingers, toes or muscles
- tremors, seizures and fits
In addition to this, serious addiction issues have also been reported. Users can quickly develop dependence, which can easily lead to addition depending on how long and how much you’ve been using. Addicted users who want to stop may experience severe withdrawal symptoms including irritability, mood swings, excessive sweating, jitters, insomnia, weight loss, and diarrhea.
Serious Health Risks Surround this Subject
The rate at which new substances are introduced into the market by far outstrips the rate of studies on various synthetic cannabis products. src
Besides the side-effects, research results have also associated synthetic cannabis with a wide range of long-term illnesses. Many synthetic cannabinoids are structurally similar to serotonin, a chemical produced in the body. The use of synthetic cannabis can, therefore, cause the body to be overwhelmed with the effects of serotonin, resulting in acute fever, increased heart rate, extreme sweating, aggressiveness, organ failure, and even coma and death.
And with their extreme potency, synthetic cannabis products are many times more likely to induce hallucinations and paranoia than natural cannabis. They’re also more likely to trigger serious psychotic episodes that could last for weeks. Regular users who have a history of mental health problems stand a greater risk of relapsing, and those with a history of mental illness in their family stand a greater risk of developing serious mental issues.
The Government and the Police are Cracking Down
The Government continues to expand its list of synthetic cannabis products as more new substances hit the markets. A new bill was passed recently giving the law enforcement authorities the purview to identify substances suspected to be synthetic cannabis. Law enforcement also now has the mandate to prosecute suspects involved in the trade of synthetic cannabis without a court trial.
Current synthetic cannabis laws stipulate hefty fines or up to two years in jail for dealers. According to the law, commercial traffickers are defined as anyone caught in possession of 100 grams or more of synthetic cannabis.