Spice and K2 are names for synthetic cannabinoids. The chemicals, called cannabimimetics, which are used to create these drugs are related to those found in marijuana plants, which is what gives Spice and K2 their other name: Synthetic marijuana. They are sometimes marketed as the safe version of these drugs, but that is far from the truth: They are often far more dangerous and addictive than regular marijuana.
Spice/ K2 is part of a group of drugs known as new psychoactive substances (NPS). In this category are drugs often known as bath salts and these drugs are unregulated psychoactives, meaning they have mind-altering effects when used. Much like bath salts, it’s almost impossible to determine what drugs like Spice or K2 are actually made of, which makes using them that much more dangerous.
Spice/K2 actually look harmless: it often comes in foil packets that are filled with a mix of herbs, with the synthetic cannabinoid sprayed onto those plants. It also comes in liquid form, which people vape or smoke in hookahs.
How K2/Spice works
The side effects of K2/Spice hasn’t been studied extensively, due to the drug dealers constantly changing the chemical nature of synthetic cannabinoids. However, researcher has shown that Spice/K2 binds to the same receptors in the brain as the THC in marijuana does. However, the binding is far stronger and people have reported a mix of good and bad side effects, including:
- Elevated mood
- Altered perception
- Extreme anxiety
However, sometimes the side effects can be dangerous, even life-threatening. People who have used synthetic cannabinoids and ended up in the emergency room experience effects such as:
- Severe agitation and anxiety
- Fast, racing heartbeat and higher blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle spasms, seizures, and tremors
- Intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes
- Suicidal and other harmful thoughts and/or actions
Synthetic cannabinoids can damage kidneys too.
Researchers have likened the effects of Spice/K2 to PCP, with reports of people being very aggressive and feeling invincible. These can make them dangerous not only to themselves but those around them. They may attack someone, or hurt themselves without realizing it.