What is herbal incense?

Herbal incense is also known as “k2” or “spice”. is a synthetic cannabinoid, that is a man-made chemical that sprayed on dry or shredded plant elements, and produced in the form of smoke or liquid. People use the cannabinoids via e-cigarets, through vaporizing or inhaling. The products made from this chemical are also referred to as herbal or liquid incense.

Synthetic Cannabinoids have similar chemical properties found in the marijuana plants and are often mistakenly called synthetic marijuana, or fake weed. The manufacturers who mass produce this chemical, label it as a safe legal alternative for the real drug.  The truth is they are not so safe and may affect the brain in a sometimes more powerful way than actual marijuana. The synthetic cannabinoid may produce intense and unforeseen effects, and in some occurrences become fatal.

Synthetic cannabinoids belong to a new group of drugs called new psychoactive substances, that are designed to imitate established illicit drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine, Ecstacy, and LSD.

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NPS are mind-altering and unregulated drugs, which have been around for a few years,  but have been re-introduced in a new form and improved potency with more powerful chemicals. They gained their reputation by their ability to be used openly in public, easy access either online or in stores, and colorful variety of flavors.

Colorful packets of K2 and Spice.

There is misleading advertising on the synthetic cannabinoid packaging. It may often say, that this product is not intended for human consumption, and is marketed as natural based on plants materials. Although there is a natural part of it, like dried plant elements, there are mind-altering chemicals added to it that are made in labs.

There are hundreds of brands that manufacture synthetic cannabinoids, including K2, Spice, Joker, Black Mamba, Kush, and Kronic. They are sold in colorful animated packages to make them appealing to the customers.

In recent years, synthetic cannabinoid mixtures have been sold around the US in tobacco stores, drug equipment stores, novelty stores, and gas stations. These products are easy to purchase, and no ID is required. After authorities tested chemicals in the product and determined no apparent medical benefits and high potential for abuse, the cannabinoids were deemed illegal to sell, buy or possess. Though the downside was, those front running manufacturers have altered chemical structure to get around these laws.

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Many users have trusted synthetic cannabinoids to be safe, natural, and harmless, therefore contributing to teen use.  Another fact for uncontrollable use of this drug is that standard drug tests can not detect the presence of multiple chemicals used in these products.

How do people use synthetic cannabinoids or herbal incense?

Synthetic cannabinoids are generally smoked via dried plant elements. It sometimes mixed with other drugs like marijuana or brewed as a tea. Some users purchase liquid form to be used with e-cigarets.

How do synthetic cannabinoids affect the brain?

Synthetic cannabinoids affect cell receptors in the brain, in a similar way as THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, mind-altering element of marijuana. More recent researches suggest that some of these drugs bind more firmly that marijuana, and can produce more potent effects, leading to harmful health effects.

Since the chemical structure of these products are unidentifiable and may change from package to package, the effects of each cannabinoid mixture may have a significantly different effect than expected by a user.

What are the most common synthetic cannabinoid effects?

  • relaxation
  • mood exhilaration
  • confusions, distorted perception of the immediate surrounding
  • psychosis (delusions, being detached from reality)

Many of these effects are similar to those produced by marijuana.

Also, psychotic effects may include extreme anxiety, confusion, paranoia, hallucinations.

What are the health effects of synthetic cannabinoids?

  • increased heart rate
  • vomiting
  • violent behavior
  • suicidal thoughts
  • high blood pressure
  • kidney damage
  • seizures and death

Are synthetic cannabinoids or herbal incense addictive?

Synthetic cannabinoids may be addictive if used repeatedly and may cause some withdrawal symptoms if the user is attempting to stop. Some of the symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • depression

A combination of medications and behavioral therapy have not being used or applied to treat a possible addiction, as it would be in other addiction treatments.  Medical professionals may be able to evaluate the patient for a co-occurring mental health disorder.