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Synthetic Cannabinoids / Spice

herbal incense, smoking mixtures, synthetic marijuana, fake weed



First started appearing on the drugs market s some time after year 2000, for sale in Headshops and on the Internet, and marketed as an alternative to Cannabis.

Originally uncontrolled, but now many of the substances have been banned.



Most commonly sold as Herbal Incense, or a Smoking Mixture, consisting of dried leaves, with the drug sprayed over them. Also sometimes bought in a more pure form as a white powder.


method of use

Typically smoked in joints, bongs or pipes. The powder form can be swallowed, although this is rare, due to it being dangerously strong, making negative reactions likely.



Although marketed as an alternative to Cannabis, the effects are markedly different, and much stronger.

The desired effects are relaxation, increased appreciation of music, and enhancement of appetite.

Some people smoke for pain relief. As well as these effects though, many users report loss of coordination, slurring speech, confusion. Some people have reported hallucinations.

Excessive tiredness, memory loss, anxiety and paranoia are also common.


health risks

Because these substances are so new, it is impossible to know fully the health risks of taking them. What we do know so far is that there have been numerous cases of hospitalisation due to adverse reactions to these substances, and even some deaths. Panic Attacks, Heart Palpitations  and Psychotic  symptoms have all been reported.

Many of the harms reported with these substances seem to come from accidentally smoking to much. These substances are much, much stronger than Cannabis, and should not be smoked in the same way. A pinch of smoking mixture, about the size of a match-head, is plenty, and may even be too much for some people. Many people say that they have had really unpleasant experiences from accidentally smoking too much of these substances, and have likened the effects to that of a strong hallucinogenic drug.

Regular use of these substances may result in Physical Dependence. Many people have reported shaking hands, sweating, confusion, insomnia, nausea and vomiting when they have tried to stop smoking.

Regular smokers also often complain of a persistent cough, and severe stomach pains, with an inability to keep food down.


the law

When they first appeared these substances were entirely legal and uncontrolled, but many have now been banned. Producers are in a game of cat and mouse with the government, and as soon a s one substance is banned, a new one is produced to replace it. Unfortunately this seems to have the effect that the substances are getting more and more unpredictable and harmful.

Published in Alcohol & Drugs