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What are Synthetic Cannabinoids?
Synthetic cannabinoids are chemicals that are made to act like the active part of cannabis, a substance called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). As synthetic cannabinoids act like cannabis the effects – good and bad – are likely to be very similar to cannabis. Some users will feel happy and relaxed, may get the giggles, feel hunger pangs and become very talkative. Others may feel ill or paranoid.
Synthetic cannabinoids are usually sold in ‘herbal’ smoking mixtures. Sometimes these smoking mixtures have been found not to contain any synthetic cannibinoids at all!
There are lots of different types of synthetic cannabinoids and a large number have become Class B drugs, which are illegal to have, give away or sell. You can never be sure what is in a smoking mixture so it’s often hard to tell whether it is illegal or not.
In their pure form, synthetic cannabinoids are either solids or oils. They are then added to dried herbs, vegetable matter or plant cuttings to make a smoking mixture (so that it looks more like real herbal cannabis).
The smoking mixtures are packaged very professionally in small, often colourful sachets with labels describing the contents as incense or herbal smoking mixture and almost always stating: ‘Not for human consumption’.
There are many different names given to herbal smoking mixtures, some of the most common are listed in the aka section at the top of the page.
Although there are many different names or brands it is not uncommon for different brands to contain the same synthetic cannabinoids. Some may contain even contain illegal synthetic cannabinoids.
There are many different brand names for smoking mixtures, but it is not uncommon for different brands to contain the same synthetic cannabinoids. Some may even contain illegal synthetic cannabinoids.
How do people take synthetic cannabinoids?
Synthetic cannabinoids are used in a similar way to cannabis:
They can be mixed with tobacco, rolled up into something known as a ‘spliff’ or a ‘joint’, and then smoked
They can be smoked without tobacco using a type of pipe called a bong.
What are the effects of synthetic cannabinoids?
Synthetic cannabinoids act like THC, the active substance in cannabis. They may be stronger than typical cannabis and because these substances are so new, they may have completely unknown effects. Typical cannabis effects include:
What are the risks of synthetic cannabinoids?
Because synthetic cannabinoids act like THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis, it is very likely that they will produce harmful effects similar to those associated with cannabis. But many synthetic cannabinoids are new and may have other completely unknown effects too. There may also be risks from smoking the plant material itself – as occurs with tobacco and cannabis smoking.
What are synthetic cannabinoids cut with?
Any dried herbs, vegetable matter or plant cuttings can be used to make smoking mixtures. A number of different plants are often listed on the packaging of smoking mixtures, but it appears that many are not present and that the packaging cannot be trusted. The chemical composition of synthetic cannabinoids and the ingredients of smoking mixtures are changing all the time, so you can never be sure what you’re getting, how powerful it is and how it could affect you.
There have been very few studies carried out on the level of synthetic cannabinoids present in smoking mixtures. Because of the difficulties in making a smoking mixture it is likely that there will be differences in the concentration of synthetic cannabinoids between different batches. Some don’t contain any synthetic cannabinoids at all.
Can you get addicted to synthetic cannabinoids?
There is little information about whether synthetic cannabinoids are addictive. However, because they are similar to cannabis which is addictive it is likely that dependence on synthetic cannabinoids is a real risk for users.
Dependence will be influenced by a number of factors, including how long you’ve been using it, how much you use and whether you are just more prone to become dependent.
If you have used synthetic cannabinoids regularly you may find it difficult to stop using and you may experience psychological and physical withdrawals when you do stop. The withdrawals can include cravings for synthetic cannabinoids, irritability, mood changes, loss of appetite, weight loss, difficulty sleeping and even sweating, shaking and diarrhoea.
Synthetic cannabinoids and the law
What if you’re caught?
Did you know?
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