If you are looking to buy synthetic weed for its intended purpose we strongly suggest you don’t. Unsmoked, none of the samples we purchased smelled particularly pleasant and they got worse lit up. Dead Man and Power Diesel, in particular, both have the slightly sickly smell of cheap potpourri your grandmother might pick up at Kmart. The only one that was even close to acceptable was the strawberry Funky Monkey which, while still smelling awful, at least has a fake strawberry scent going for it.
Of the three the clear “winner” was the strawberry one, only because its heavily chemical “flavoring” masked the dryness of the actual product. It was like smoking strawberry-flavored hashish without the hashish. It smoked smoothly with a lightly-flavored taste (though, like its peers, it had a chemical burny aftertaste). In terms of the “high” it produced, it wasn’t much but it was there. Sort of a back-of-the-eyes, light headedness along with drymouth. One participant said their “cheeks feel rosy, eyes ‘tickley.'” After that though we were left with a harsh aftertaste of sticks and dirt on the tongue.
Fake weed looks, tastes and smokes like the cheap crap you might buy from a guy on a bike in Washington Square Park or the stuff your tried that one time in eighth grade. Which helps explain its apparent popularity with kids. It doesn’t look like much, smells worse and smokes poorly. But it does give the smoker a slight high, akin to the one you had that one time in middle school. An eye high, if you will, that fades fast. In our tests we experienced none of the symptoms that the New York State Department of Health is so worried about. No heart palpitations, no confusion or seizures. Just a light high.
Before we go any further, however, let’s be VERY clear: All of the products that we bought clearly say on their packaging that they are “NOT for human consumption” and as such we do NOT recommend you try this at home. Everyone partaking in this study was a highly trained professional with years of field experience. Okay, with that out of the way, let’s spark up!
The other two samples elicited similar, if less positive, responses. Dead Man reminded one taster of Catholic incense (“want to flashback to your repressed childhood religious experiences? Try this!”) with, another person pointed out, a slight “apple” flavor up front. And Power Diesel’s chemical flavor seemed to be the least appetizing to our testers (“tiny bit of bleach/chemical taste to it,” “dirty menthol”). Of the three the Power Diesel also burned the strangest, twice making crackling and popping noises while being smoked.
The cause: synthetic cannabinoids, also known as K2, Spice, or AK47, which induced retching, vomiting, loss of consciousness and trouble breathing. On July 19, 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration warned consumers that another batch of synthetic marijuana had been laced with rat poison. In 10 states and the District of Columbia, hundreds of people were hospitalized with severe bleeding, and four people died.
The Green, a gathering place in New Haven, Connecticut, near Yale University looked like a mass casualty zone, with 70 serious drug overdoses over a period spanning August 15-16, 2018.
Why is using synthetic marijuana risky?
However, synthetic cannabinoids are anything but natural. They are mass-produced overseas and then shipped in bulk to the US, where they are dissolved and then mixed with dried vegetation, which absorbs the liquid. This process is very imprecise, so the dose in one packet can differ greatly within or between batches.
Even with outbreaks aside, synthetic cannabinoids are 30 times more likely to harm you than regular marijuana. Even with these risks, 7 percent of high school seniors and approximately 17 percent of adults have tried synthetic cannabinoids. It is easy to understand why these synthetic substitutes are alluring. They are easy to purchase, relatively inexpensive, produce a more potent high and don’t emit the typical marijuana scent. And, they are much harder to detect in the urine or blood than marijuana.
There are several hundred synthetic cannabinoids in existence, and they all stimulate cannabinoid type 1 receptors (CB1), just like the active component in natural marijuana, THC, that provides the high. But they do so with different intensities and for differing periods of time. Some incorporate the central ring structure of the THC molecule before laboratory modification, but many others do not. More problems arise because some of the synthetic cannabinoids stimulate non-cannabinoid receptors and can cause unanticipated effects as well. There is no way to know which synthetic cannabinoids are actually in the product you purchased.