Authorities in the US have reported a “dramatic surge” in overdoses and drug-related offenses involving synthetic marijuana, an inexpensive substance which is made of chemical ingredients and imported mainly from China.
Poison control centers have received more than 5,200 calls this year related to fake weed—also known as K2, Spice, Scooby Snax, etc.—up from the 3,680 calls handled all through last year, the Associated Press reports, citing the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Synthesized marijuana may look like your typical greenery, but in some cases it can be “up to 100 times as potent as THC”, the active ingredient in real weed.
Chemical compounds meant to mimic THC are sprayed onto herbs and sold in small ziplock bags, some of which are decorated with delightful cartoon characters and read “not for human consumption”.
The chemicals vary from package to package, are addictive and can trigger horrible side-effects, including “extreme anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks, alienation/disassociation, psychotic episodes and hallucinations,” according to AP.
While the fake weed can sometimes be sold under the counter at stores in the US, it can most easily be purchased online.
Last week, US police arrested a 38-year-old woman accused of importing synthetic marijuana from a source in China through the mail after a raid at her home.