When I saw the small plastic case on the counter of the local smoke shop I didn’t pay any attention to it. The small clear containers inside the case had cute names on them and the foil packets looked like the freeze dried worms I used to buy for my fish. Paying for my overpriced beer I noticed four or five rather anxious people standing to my left. They all asked the same thing. “Do you still have the fifty dollar deal?” and when the clerk nodded yes they all started pulling out their money. Thinking that there was some sale on cartons of cigarettes I stepped back to see what the deal was. That’s the first time I heard of synthetic marijuana. In all honesty, this can’t be called marijuana because it contains no THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Even so, it is legal to sell and purchase but if the DEA has their way, it will be banned.

It goes without saying that I am not advocating purchasing, experimenting or smoking any products mentioned in this article. Since this is something that can be purchased almost anywhere by anyone over the age of 18 there is a huge market for reselling to those under the age of 18 (with an obvious profit for the provider) there are a lot of parents out there who are completely in the dark about these products.

People that I have talked to about these synthetics have almost all said that it is a more intense high than marijuana but there are more side effects including higher levels of paranoia, restlessness, profuse sweating and abdominal cramping. Funny, I never remember any of those side effects from the less-than-legal years of my misspent youth. This all makes me wonder how far people are going to go to get high. When do you sit there and say, “You know, maybe I need to take a break from this” ‘” probably around the time when you are shoving nutmeg, dog feces and poppyseed into your bong to try and get off on it.

Prices on synthetic marijuana / incense are fairly expensive when you consider the amount that you are getting. A local distributor sells the pre-packaged containers for a set amount. One for $20.00, two for $35.00 or three for $50.00. Websites are popping up daily offering a variety of different products; you have a double risk there. You have no idea what you are getting (or if your credit card information is safe) or if you will even receive your shipment. Likewise, I should stress that if these items are banned or end up containing chemicals that are scheduled by the DEA your name could surface on a watch-list and you could get a knock at your door.

What are some of the names of the synthetic marijuana being sold in stores and online? “Posh” is by far one of the most popular but there’s also “K2”, “Fire”, “Spirit”, “Hypno”, “Fade”, “Freedom” and “Bullet”. Is it really marijuana? No. It contains no THC so it will not show up on any type of drug test. Locally it carries the nickname “probation weed” because individuals on probation who are subject to drug testing can smoke it without worrying about it throwing up a red flag.

How is it legal? Four words. “Not For Human Consumption”. Think of the diet drugs that are on the market; they carry the phrase “This product has not been evaluated by the FDA”. If something should happen to someone that makes the choice to smoke something that is clearly labeled with a cautionary warning then no one is to blame. Well, at least that is the current thought on it.

Organic marijuana (actual grown from seed product) contains TCH; the synthetic is TCH free but most are using “Cannabicyclohexanol” as a chemical additive to increase the euphoria of the ‘spice blend’. Cannabicyclohexanol is more addictive than TCH and some researchers are comparing it to Ecstasy / MDMA because of cases of depleted serotonin levels.

The DEA has taken measures to have most of the common chemicals used with synthetic marijuana and aromatic incense banned or scheduled. Of course, all a company has to do to get around that is to change the formulation. Such is the case with K2 and their new “K2 Solid Sex”. The company website, www.k2incense.org, offers all of their current products for sale providing that you are 18 or older. They have reformulated their ‘incense’ to be 50% stronger than older versions and are for sale to all States as well as international orders.