Post-Election Recap: What New Drug Laws Mean for Addiction and Recovery
The 2014 midterm elections saw many drug-related ballot measures, from recreational use of marijuana to reducing criminal penalties of possession.
Back in April, we warned of a growing synthetic marijuana outbreak. At that time, it seemed like the dangers were contained to Illinois, with the majority happening in Chicago. Then, in July, that same strain of synthetic marijuana that contained brodifacoum, an anti-coagulant found in rat poison, had sent over 170 people across 6 states to the ER for bleeding out. Now, another strain has appeared in Connecticut and caused 100 overdoses as of August 22nd.
Whatever strain of synthetic marijuana is present in New Haven is not the same that has killed 4 and hospitalized over 170. Given that no one has been reported bleeding out, it seems to be a new blend that is being sold. That doesn’t make it safer, however, as indicated by the 100 people who have overdosed. The reason being is that it actually has no relation to marijuana at all. It is, in fact, some kind of plant material that has been sprayed with a blend of chemicals to simulate the effects of THC, though the actual effects are never that simple.
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Users of synthetic marijuana in New Haven have experienced increased heart rates, trouble breathing, and vomiting. Cases of overdose, similar to those in Austin, have involved others collapsing unconscious or semiconscious. While it makes sense to refer to this as an “overdose,” that is not always the case. There isn’t a safe amount of this drug that can be taken, especially when the exact mix of chemicals used in any given strain of synthetic marijuana. There is even a change from batch to batch of the same brand. These inconsistencies in formula make synthetic marijuana so dangerous, but are also what keep it legal.
Not for human consumption.
Synthetic marijuana is some kind of plant material that has been sprayed with chemicals to simulate the effects of THC. These blends can be anywhere from two to one-hundred times as potent as regular THC, but this isn’t the dangerous part. These blends can be sold legally because they are made from chemicals not meant for human consumption, and so they haven’t been outlawed. In fact, all that’s required for sale in brick-and-mortar stores is for it to be labeled as, “not for human consumption.” Once a governmental body gets hold of the blend, they can ban it, but by then the blend has already been tweaked. This keeps manufacturers one step ahead of the law and allows them to keep selling.
The nature of synthetic marijuana makes it technically “legal.” Because of this, many think it is a good substitution for the use of actual marijuana, without the possibility of being arrested. People are also swayed by the fact that it doesn’t show up on typical drug tests. However, the dangerous risks of what the synthetic substitute can cause far outweigh the benefits.
The inconsistencies between batches of synthetic marijuana make it hard to make any definitive statement about the class of drug as a whole. However, it can be said with certainty that it is not safe for anyone to consume. If you or someone you love are addicted to synthetic marijuana, please come forward. Even legal drugs can be highly addictive and dangerous. In the case of synthetic marijuana, you are putting your life at risk every time you use it. If you do need help, but don’t know where to start, reach out to a dedicated treatment provider. They are available 24/7 to provide any assistance you may need.
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