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More Liberal Cannabis Laws Lead to Fewer Spice/K2 Overdoses

The recent wave of legalization has shown a steep decline in health issues associated with the use of synthetic cannabin
24 August 2022
2 min read
More Liberal Cannabis Laws Lead to Fewer Spice/K2 Overdoses

By looking at what happens when a country or state legalizes either medical or recreational marijuana, a team of scientists has discovered that both of these measures lead to a sizeable drop in the consumption of dangerous designer drugs known throughout the world as Spice, K2, or Mamba.

The research paper, published in the Journal of Clinical Toxicology, says that the passage of adult use laws result in an especially drastic decline – with annual exposures to synthetic cannabinoids dropping by 37%. Medical marijuana laws have a more modest impact of 13%. To come to these conclusions, the authors analyzed the data from 7600 exposures to synthetic cannabinoids between 2016 and 2019.

Filling the Void Left by Marijuana Criminalization

Synthetic cannabinoids are a type of designer drugs that were once ubiquitous as a legal alternative to the demonized ‘dangerous drug’ – cannabis. The producers and sellers used a well-known catch – if you keep changing the formula just a bit, the law won’t keep up with prohibiting new varieties all the time.

The side effect was the emergence of substances that were more and more removed from the cannabis-like original and became more and more dangerous in the process. However, they still retain the affinity to the cannabinoid receptors in our bodies and have effects similar to weed.

 

More Liberal Cannabis Laws Lead to Fewer Spice/K2 Overdoses: A woman's hands as she lights up a cannabis joint sitting on a park bench

Although harmless compared with spice, cannabis is still illegal in most countries.

A Hard-to-Contain Epidemic

Although synthetic cannabinoids are as illegal now as their harmful effects warrant, their use has assumed the character of an epidemic. Spice is often used as a spray that applies the chemical to some innocuous plant matter (to be smoked later in a pipe or bong) but instead of, say, oregano, you can spray it on paper. This makes it a perfect medium to smuggle anywhere including prisons. In the UK, before regular testing for synthetic cannabinoids was adopted by the penitentiary, there was a spike in serious and sometimes fatal overdoses among inmates.

The US saw a similar problem with K2, and between 2014 and 2015, the number of overdose deaths from synthetic cannabinoids tripled, according to the CDC.

Recently, the use of weed’s black-sheep relatives and their popularity has been on the decline. Most consumers have awakened to their dangers and changing attitudes toward natural cannabis have played an even greater role. Now, there’s hard scientific data that cannabis legalization does a great job of keeping more dangerous substances off the streets – whether synthetic cannabis or opioids.

 

24 August 2022