Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Synthetic Marijuana May Pose an Even Greater Psychosis Risk

According to a news release from the DEA at the time of the ban, synthetic cannabis (smokeable herbal products, Spice) have become especially popular with teens and young adults because they are marketed as being legal while containing chemicals that supposedly mimic THC.

"Young people are being harmed when they smoke these dangerous 'fake pot' products and wrongly equate the products' 'legal’ retail availability with being 'safe,' “added DEA administrator Michele M. Leonhart in the news release.

"These chemicals, however, have not been approved by the FDA for human consumption, and there is no oversight of the manufacturing process," writes the DEA. Synthetic cannabis is often labeled as "herbal incense" and reportedly causes cannabis-like psychoactive effects. Its use led to hundreds of visits to emergency departments since 2010.

Synthetic cannabis products pose a risk for psychosis in users, including those with no prior history of a psychiatric disorder. Spice may pose an even greater risk of psychosis when compared with the natural product as it lacks the antipsychotic protective agents found in natural cannabis. These findings were presented at the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) 22nd Annual Meeting & Symposium.

Alan J. Budny, PhD, from the Center for Addiction Research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, warns parents that some teens use synthetic cannabis to "beat the tests" done to detect marijuana use. As Spice does not get picked up on the regular drug tests parents should look for more sensitive tests that are now being developed and marketed to test synthetic marijuana.

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