Synthetic cannabinoids found themselves in the spotlight last year when, despite having been around since it was patented in 1983, both marijuana aficionados and the curious alike flocked to get their hands on Delta-8 THC. Consumers rejoiced at having easily accessible THC products that could be vaped, made into edibles, and of course, smoked. It didn’t take long, however, for medical and public health professionals to raise alarm bells.
Like many other types of synthetic cannabinoids, commonly referred to as “fake weed”, they are touted to be safe, and less risky versions of a drug that already has the perception of being mostly harmless. The truth is that these man-made drugs can be dangerous, being more powerful than marijuana or having impurities caused by the way they were chemically processed. Learn more in this list of synthetic cannabinoids where we’ll break down the various types and how they work.
What Are Synthetic Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are the over 100 substances found in the cannabis plant, such as THC and CBD. Synthetic cannabinoids are man-made, mind-altering chemicals that are similar to those naturally occurring in the cannabis plant–but often much, much stronger. They can also result in toxicity and overdoses.
They’re part of a classification of drugs called NPS or new psychoactive substances. They’re unregulated products often riddled with misleading labels or downright falsehoods. One of the most common is that they’ll claim to have a natural component, but in truth, are just chemicals sprayed on plant material for smoking. Synthetic cannabinoids are also available in liquid form for vaping.
Is Synthetic Marijuana Legal?
Neither cannabinoids nor their synthetic counterparts are legal and are, therefore, unregulated. Synthetic cannabinoid manufacturers have been able to skirt the law and make their products regularly available in smoke shops and gas stations by routinely changing the chemical formulas. This puts consumers at increased risk since it can be near impossible to determine what’s actually in their “fake weed”, a common misnomer.
Is Delta 8 Natural or Synthetic?
Spoiler: Delta-8 is included in our synthetic cannabinoid list. Even though it’s a hemp derivative, Delta-8 is only naturally produced in hemp plants in very small amounts. As such, all of the delta-8 products available are ones created through a chemical process (this process creates a molecule virtually identical to THC (delta-9) which is why it’s able to get you high).
Remarkable as it is that science was able to create a mind-altering drug that fits a legal loophole that even recreational weed could not circumvent, this chemical process also carries the risks that delta-8 and other synthetic cannabinoid users must contend with–namely, buying products in an unregulated market and not knowing what you’re really consuming.
Synthetic Cannabinoids List
There are constantly new types of cannabinoids being synthesized (you’ll recall, this is a less than reputable technique that allows the manufacturers stay a step ahead of the drug enforcement. K2 and Spice are two of the earliest synthetics known on the market and are still popular to this day.
- Black Mamba
- Bombay Blue
- Dawn Scooby Skunk
- Fake Weed
- Green Giant
- Happy Joker
- Killer Buzz
- Legal Weed
- Mad Hatter
- Mad Monkey
- Mr. Happy
- Purple Diesel
- Red X
- Scooby Snacks
- Smoking Santa
- White Widow
Synthetic Cannabinoids Effects
Synthetic cannabinoids bind more strongly to receptors in the brain than marijuana so they provide several similar effects as weed, but more intensely. These include:
- Acute kidney injury
- Aggressive and violent behavior
- Breakdown of muscle tissue (rhabdomyolysis)
- Breathing difficulties
- Chest pain
- Fast and irregular heartbeat
- Hyperthermia (overheating)
- Loss of coordination
- Racing thoughts
- Raised blood pressure (hypertension)
Effects can be felt as soon as five minutes of consumption, but there are a number of factors that can affect which symptoms people experience:
- Frequency of use
- Presence of other drugs
- Strength of the batch/chemical formula
- Setting of drug use (environment)
Frequent use of synthetic cannabinoids can lead to long-term physical and psychological conditions, behavioral issues, cognitive impairment, and mental health issues such as depression or psychosis. They can also result in the body developing a tolerance to the substances which will, in turn, result in withdrawal symptoms, even if it hasn’t reached the stage of addiction.
Synthetic cannabinoid withdrawal symptoms include:
- Agitation and irritability
- Appetite change
- Mood swings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Panic attacks
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Irregular, fast heart rate
- Severe hypothermia
If you or a loved one are struggling with drug use, find a drug and alcohol addiction rehab near you today.