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Leonard L. Frieling Aug. 10, 2022

Is Synthetic Marijuana Really "Synthetic Marijuana?"

While sharing a name, is synthetic marijuana really a lab-created chemical with a molecule, or chemical structure, identical to grown marijuana?

Grown marijuana, cannabis sativa L (which is generally assumed to include or be is treated legally the same as cannabis indica), is a combination of approximately 80 to 105 different cannabinoids along with other plant material. Much as endocannabinoids, produced naturally by the body, these cannabinoids are also "accepted" by the body by our CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors seem to perform no additional purpose and have been found in all parts of the body except for the brain stem. It is theorized that since the brain stem is known to control the most basic bodily functions, such as breathing, and since there may be no CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain stem, the lack of a deadly poisoning dose of marijuana may be explained. Unlike opiates for example, marijuana cannot stop a person from breathing.

The different effects of different strains of marijuana may be the result of varying proportions of the varying cannabinoids. Delta-9 THC tetrahydrocannabinol is the major psychoactive component of marijuana,. Another cannabinoid, CDB, or cannabidiol is associated with recent successes in reducing or eliminating seizures in youngsters while avoiding the "high". The specific strain of marijuana for youngsters medical needs contains a drastically reduced amount of delta-9 THC, avoiding the "high" of the other marijuana strains. Such high CDB, low THC strains have been produced by cloning various strains of the marijuana plant. Lab duplication of CBD alone has so far proved evasive. Additionally, the role the many other natural cannabinoids may play in the CBD seizure reduction success is not yet known.

Synthetic marijuana is not the same thing as plant marijuana. Variously called Spice, K-2, and other things, it is a at best a lab attempt to create a single cannabinoid resembling marijuana's natural psychoactive cannabinoid, delta-9 THC. It is chemically different, although the molecule looks generally similar. At worst, it is an unknown chemical produced in uncontrolled labs and contains unknown additives of other potentially psychoactive components.

Several problems are presented by the synthetic. First, it is not the same chemical as THC or as any other natural cannabinoid. Moving a single atom in a molecule can drastically change the chemistry and its the properties of the new chemical. For Spice, the psychoactive effect is quite different, and apparently far more intense and potentially dangerous. Additionally, what is marketed as one of the various these synthetics may have one or a vast assortment of chemicals added, none of which are on the label, in an attempt duplicate marijuana, a complex organic substance. Although chemically-molecularly resembling cannabinoids, the chemistry is NOT the same. The attempts at duplication have been unsuccessful. Not only do the ingredients vary, with no consistency in the various forms of the synthetics, the marketed products contain varying mixes of other unidentified chemicals. The psychoactive effect varies in unpredictable ways. Every time it is ingested, a new science experiment is being attempted, with unpredictable results, and with the experimenter as the subject. It is basic science that unless interested in a "Dr Jekyll- Mr Hyde" type of experiment, one does not experiment on themselves. For all of the years of history of general safety and non-poisonous effects of marijuana, that is not the history of synthetic cannabis. And why should it be expected to be similar? Does synthetic sugar taste the same as cane sugar?

It is dangerous to confuse these two substances, one with a long history of use and experience, the other a lab creation of recent invention probably by John W. Huffman. The drugs share part of a name. Both are psychoactive. The molecules appear generally similar. The similarities end there. The psychoactive effect of marijuana, although it varies, is generally similar. That is Not true of the synthetics. In addition to being of varying chemical structure, they are presented for sale in unknown combinations of generally unknown ingredients.

Regardless of ones opinion on whether the synthetics should be legal or not, we owe it to ourselves and to our friends and children to appreciate the difference, and to not confuse Spice or K-2 or the flavor of the weak with the marijuana plant and its products. They share almost nothing beyond part of a name. If my first name was Albert, that does not mean that my last name was Einstein, or that there is any other similarity beyond general organic construction? Trust me; it is not hard to tell the difference. My level of functioning, as you might surmise, is different from that of Dr. Einstein's.

Do not let a similarity in naming for marketing purposes confuse anyone. Do not use yourself as an experimental subject., risking unwanted, unexpected effects which may be associated with taking the synthetics. At least with marijuana, particularly with state oversight for purity, strength, and the like, there is a base-level of reasonable expectation of what is being consumed.

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