A new study has shown that synthetic cannabis products known as “spice” and “k2” are used far less than in states that have legalised cannabis.
The study from The Center for Cannabis Policy, Research and Outreach at Washington State University in Vancouver, Washington, found that synthetic cannabis poisoning rates have dropped 37% in states that with legal cannabis.
Synthetic cannabinoids are not actually cannabis, merely inherited a similar name as they affect the same receptors in the brain that the psychoactive component of cannabis (THC), often having a stronger than the desired effect. In Ireland, there is no way to know which products are synthetic and which are natural.
"These products are made in a powdered format and could be sprayed on or added to something that looks exactly like natural cannabis. So, in a party situation, I could see that someone could use this unintentionally," said Tracy Klein, assistant director for the Center for Cannabis Policy, Research and Outreach at Washington State University.
The study shows the potential health benefits of legal and recreational cannabis, it is evident that consumers who have a choice to use a less harmful and toxic product would do so.
Synthetic products can be found across the globe, with the prevalence of these products increasing year on year. Data from a UN study found 320 different synthetic products sold on the illegal market. Detection of synthetic cannabis can also be difficult. One theory for their popularity is that it is usually undetectable in a urine drug test. In June this year, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) issued a warning regarding synthetic cannabis. Warning that cannabis is being adulterated with “highly potent and toxic” synthetic substances that pose far greater health risks.