Spice has been a hot topic in the news this year and those of us who work with addicts have been paying close attention to what is happening in the local and federal laws. Spice is sold as an incense, which makes it legal for anyone – including teens – to buy it. In the user community, however, it’s a well-known fact that Spice can be smoked like a synthetic marijuana and does not come up on a regular urinalysis test. A test did come out a few months ago that does test for the synthetic marijuana but it is still not used nor available in all areas.
Realizing the danger of the drug, many cities and states, including Utah, made moves to ban the selling of Spice. The US Drug Enforcement Administration got involved in December and made a nationwide ban of 5 of the chemicals used to make the synthetic THC. But now it appears that federal ban, meant to take effect in December, is tied up in a lawsuit and it could be a year before the legal issues are resolved. On top of that, Spice manufacturers have already sidestepped the issue by making the product with chemicals not on the federal ban list. (Here’s an update to Utah Spice ban bills being discussed in the Legislature right now.)
This means the drug is still being sold in Utah and across the nation, typically in smoke shops. Utah legislature is looking at taking further actions this legislative session but the drug can still be purchased online.
If it is outlawed, there is some stipulation that the drug will just go underground, like cocaine or marijuana. Bottom line, Spice isn’t going away any time soon. So parents, teens and youth professionals need to know the dangers involved with using the synthetic marijuana.
As part of his substance abuse treatment at Youth Services, Mohamed (a fictions name) researched more about Spice, also known as JWH-018, and his firsthand experience as a teen user.
Firsthand Account on Teens Using SPICE:
One of the newest ways to get a quick buzz or high nowadays is to smoke “spice” otherwise known as the lab made weed, or K2. It is very commonly used by people on probation or involved in anything that requires a urinalysis because it is so rarely tested for. The scary thing about spice is that not everyone really knows what is in it. I myself have had many experiences with Spice; the high that it causes is very intense. It causes extreme headaches, fatigue, slurred speech, and you very easily forget things while on Spice. As I have done some research on Spice I was shocked at the things I have discovered on the risk we are taking every time we inhale the chemicals in it.
Spice is currently being sold at smoke shops and convenience stores as incense or a legal smoking material. The long-term effects of spice are unknown; however there have been many reports of hospitalizations, seizures, and suicides resulting from spice use. Spice contains synthetic cannabinoids, which act on the body in a very similar way to cannabinoids found in marijuana, therefore causing a similar high to marijuana.
Almost every professional report on spice has been negative. You really don’t know what the substance is going to do to you. It can cause negative side effects that aren’t even noted in marijuana users. One study states that a three-gram package of spice is said to have the same health effects on the lungs as a pack of cigarettes. After reading all this I ask myself “Why the hell am I doing this?”
Spice holds its own little spot in the relapse cycle. When a person is coming off drugs or has even been sober for a period of time let’s say they decide it would be ok to smoke a little spice. So they smoke and remember how much they miss getting high, so they start to make a little habit of smoking Spice. Eventually that spice high gets old, so they decide to go back to their original drug of choice. It starts with that simple decision to smoke a little Spice and it eventually leads you back to your worst enemy.
Writing this essay and researching all the facts on Spice has really opened my eyes to how dangerous this synthetic pot really is. Because we honestly have no clue what is in it. And I would definitely like to stop my use before I end up laid out on a stretcher.
“Mohamed” stopped into my office recently to report that Spice is being sold at 50 cents a gram, which makes it an incredibly cheap high. If you are a parent, a youth professional, or a teen using drugs or have friends who are using drugs, get informed and get involved. Talk with the youth, know the warning signs of use and be sure to get treatment if needed.