A new study published in the journal Trends in Pharmacological Sciences analyzed the effects of synthetic cannabis on the human health. Researchers warn cannabis users of the dangerous and fatal effects synthetic cannabis can have.
Synthetic pot consists of artificial cannabinoids that are sprayed on dried and powdered plants that are ready to be smoked or inhaled. Synthetic cannabinoids—chemical compounds similar to those that marijuana plants contain—can also be produced in the form of liquids for vaporization through e-cigarettes or vape pens. Though this type of cannabis is widely positioned as a safe alternative to natural marijuana, it brings more harm than good to people.
Synthetic cannabis is very similar to the natural plant with its psychotropic effects. Synthetic cannabinoids also interact with the endocannabinoid system in the human brain and central nervous system. Synthetic weed activates the CB1 cannabinoid receptors, while natural weed also deals with the CB2 receptors with the help of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
According to the study, synthetic cannabinoids affect the CB1 receptor more intensively than natural weed’s compounds do. Moreover, synthetic marijuana can also activate other cellular receptors, which may be the reason for the adverse effects the users of synthetic pot experience.
Researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) studied the effects of this drug and found it extremely harmful to the human health.
There is an increasing number of people who had to seek doctor's help after using synthetic cannabis. Patients experienced heavy side effects that are not associated with natural marijuana.
According to the study, synthetic cannabis can be considered a drug similar to nicotine that has many toxic and sometimes fatal effects.
Because of its strong effect, synthetic cannabis can potentially lead to a boost of toxins in various systems of the human body, including the neurological, gastrointestinal, renal, and cardiovascular systems.
The study mentioned clinical cases when patients experienced the following symptoms of toxicity:
Though such symptoms as anxiety and paranoia are also possible after using natural marijuana, these side effects are short-term and moderate. Some patients experienced severe attacks of psychosis under the influence of synthetic cannabinoids. In contrast, natural weed leads to mild psychosis only in people who are susceptible to it.
People using synthetic cannabinoids are more likely to become addicted to them, whereas organic pot causes addiction in rare cases.
Besides, there were more than 20 cases of fatal outcomes related to synthetic cannabis use between 2011 and 2014, while no lethal accidents have been associated with natural marijuana consumption.
Nevertheless, the researchers did not disprove the potential therapeutic benefits of synthetic marijuana. A moderate dose of this substance and its proper consumption may indeed bring positive results. However, synthetic cannabinoids should be treated with extreme caution, the researchers concluded.