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Hospitalization from synthetic cannabis has dramatically increased
There has been an increasing trend in emergency room visits due to synthetic marijuana use in the United States. These artificial compounds can be found in retail smoke shops under names like “K2” or “Spice.” There have been cases across the world of users smoking a bad batch of this seemingly harmless drug and suffering dire consequences.
In the United States alone, the number of emergency room visits related to synthetic marijuana use has exponentially increased from 11,406 in 2010 up to 28,531 in the next year. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), between the years of 2010 and 2011, the rate of hospital visits associated with synthetic cannabis use had quadrupled and had doubled among patients between 12 and 17 years old.
The number of emergency room visits from synthetic cannabis use is still running high in 2015. Poison control centers across the country have reported 359 cases of illnesses resulting from synthetic cannabis use in January, 273 in February and 269 in March. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the number had skyrocketed to over 1,500 this past April.
The original compounds from which this class of drugs had originated was banned years ago, but manufacturers have managed to alter the chemical makeup numerous times, reselling the drug on store shelves. The components used to manufacture these drugs are constantly changing, making law enforcement on the issue challenging. These drugs produce a marijuana-like effect on their users and vary in potency, which can sometimes lead to unpredictable — even deadly — side effects among their users.
Because manufacturers keep developing new artificial cannabinoid compounds, the government has been unable to make the newer versions illegal for possession. These ingredients do not show up on standard drug tests, so its usage hard to detect. This has made these substances popular among users who are subjected to regular drug screenings. While manufacturers are developing new strains to avoid being prosecuted or detected by authorities, they sometimes manage to develop a strain that is more dangerous for users. These strains are made secretly and are not subject to any type of quality control, causing many users having no idea of what they are really consuming.
While these drugs do produce some of the same relaxing and euphoric effects of marijuana, it has also been associated with more alarming symptoms such as hallucinations, panic attacks, raised blood pressure, convulsions and even in some rare cases heart attacks.
In 2009, the United States Office on Drugs and Crime found and identified 31 varieties of synthetic cannabinoids, a number which increased six-fold in 2015 to 183. In 2013, there were 1.6 tons of synthetic cannabinoids seized in 21,000 instances spanning countries including Norway and Turkey. Some European countries have tried to control the legislation on some medicines in effects to regulate the distribution of these drugs, but there was a setback when the European Court of Justice ruled that synthetic cannabinoids did not meet the criteria of being a medicinal product.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has been monitoring the ability of member states to confront and comprehend the gravity of the synthetic drug trend since 2008. Through their SMART Program (Synthetics Monitoring: Analyses, Reporting and Trends), they are attempting to oppose this rising threat.
The use of synthetic cannabis has been an ongoing threat ever since they have come onto the scene. Despite the fact that they are marketed as producing harmless marijuana-like effects and are sold on retail shelves around the world, they do possess a wide array of harmful side effects. The lack of control in manufacturing practices has lead to this drug being a major and unpredictable threat to users.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in ten Americans suffers from addiction. Drug Treatment and Rehab Centers of Anaheim is committed to helping those who struggle with drug addiction find effective addiction treatment options in northern California. Finding the right treatment programs can be a stressful process and we help those families who are struggling to find their loved ones help. If you have a loved one who is struggling with drug addiction and is in need of addiction treatment, please do not hesitate to call. You may reach us at (916) 379-7248. Our helpline is open 24/7 and our treatment specialists will assist you in finding the right treatment program for you.