2 Dead after using synthetic weed

Marijuana, weed, Gunja; whatever you know it as, you have probably come across it or tried it at some point in your life. Marijuana has had a sordid history throughout the globe, complete with conspiracies about how it became illegal but no one can deny that after the global war on drugs started back in the 70’s that attitudes have almost come full circle on miss lady Jane.

Let’s start with some facts and stats. According to the bureau of statistics, cannabis is consumed by 34.8% of us aged from 14 years and over at least once in our life time, whilst 10.2% of us have used cannabis within the last 12 months. Now according to some sources; there has never been a recorded death directly attributed to natural cannabis and unless we had a million dollar research budget and a team of 100 researchers we could never confirm this but when you compare the damage that a legal drug like alcohol causes you can see why so many people around the globe have warmed to the idea of legalisation.

I have highlighted the above key words to ensure you understand and distinguish the difference between natural plant based cannabis and what this article is all about, synthetic cannabis. This article hits close to home for me personally as I have known someone who used synthetic cannabis some time ago and had to been submitted to a psychiatric ward due to their use of the drug. So why am I writing an article about synthetic cannabis when this incident happened so long ago? Well it is because two men have died this week from using synthetic cannabis in Queensland.

synthetic weed
Avoid at all costs

So why not just ban Synthetic cannabis like other illicit drugs? Well firstly, prohibition generally doesn’t work and just drives the market underground, fuelling criminal syndicates. PhD student, Richard Kevin explains the other “Synthetic cannabinoids are heavily modified versions of the active compounds in the cannabis plant. These new synthetics are being developed at a rate that outstrips the speed at which researchers can respond. Even when a specific synthetic drug is outlawed, or even an entire class of drugs, the molecular structure can often be ‘tweaked’ slightly so that the new compound falls outside of existing legislation. This results in a large variety of synthetic cannabinoids with largely unknown toxicity. Using a synthetic product is a lot like picking up a random pill off the ground – you can’t know exactly what you’re getting, so you’re taking a big risk. Sooner or later it’s likely that a particularly toxic synthetic cannabinoid will be developed and distributed, potentially costing lives, as may be the case in Queensland.”

When I personally spoke to the physician at the psychiatric ward after admitting my friend, he told us that “Natural cannabis, although it still has inherent issues in its use, actually has some anti-psychotic properties to it that almost provide a barrier for most people. Synthetic cannabis does not have this property and as such we have seen a huge increase in admittances over the last 5 years”. These sentiments were seconded today by Dr David Caldicott from ANU “Synthetic cannabinoids certainly have the potential to be significantly more dangerous than the natural plant material that they supposedly mimic. Deaths are well-described in the toxicological literature from this group of drugs. Whereas naturally occurring cannabis produces a wide range of chemical compounds, many of which seem to counteract the less desirable and indeed potentially dangerous effects of others, synthetic cannabinoids are industrially produced chemicals, sprayed onto plant material to give the impression that they are derived from nature. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

natural cannabis
All natural

Basically the take away from these tragic events is that if you are going to use cannabis, find the real stuff. Don’t risk your life or your sanity on synthetic cannabis because it’s not worth it and honestly if the Australian government was serious about drug control they would legalise natural cannabis for recreational use just like alcohol. Tax the hell out of it, regulate the hell out of it to control its potency and let’s face it, it would make a whole lot of money that can be put into scientific research!!

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