As the use of so called “synthetic marijuana” makes headline news across the country and the world, marijuana reform activists in Georgia have issued a warning about the man made chemicals they say are poisons.
James Bell, director of the Georgia C.A.R.E. Project (Georgia Campaign for Access, Reform & Education) issued a warning claiming the media is helping to perpetuate misinformation that the designer drugs, known by such names as “Spice”, “K2”, “Crazy Clown” are similar to and mimics natural cannabis. Bell said these claims are not true.
According to Bell, the history of the synthetic chemical goes back to Dr. Richard Huffman who created the compounds, JWH-018 and JWH-073 at Clemson University under a research program that began in 1997. The program was funded by the National Institute for Drug Abuse to study the effects Cannabinoids on the brain. The chemical compounds were rediscovered by designer drug makers in Europe and spread to America and around the world. China has become a major manufacturer of the chemicals.
In recent years, the Georgia General Assembly has been attempting to outlaw the chemicals, but designer drug makers continue to change the molecular structure of the compounds in an attempt to get around the laws. The chemical is sprayed on a plant material, packaged and sold in smoke shops and convenient stores as “potpourri” or “incense”. The plant material is smoked with often serious and sometime deadly side effects.
“Warning: This synthetic poison is not marijuana (cannabis). It is not synthetic THC. It is a man made chemical that is not for human consumption”, warned James Bell.
Bell is asking the media, law enforcement and the public to make it clear to anyone considering using this poison that it is not marijuana and does not mimic the effects of natural cannabis.
“Because this chemical is not regulated or tested and can vary in strength, the effects can range from little effect to serious adverse mental and physical effects including vomiting, psychosis and heart attacks. Some suicides have been reported after smoking the substance”, Bell said.
Dr. Huffman was quoted as saying “People who use it are idiots”. Bell said while some users may be idiots, the public is being misinformed about what this poison really is.
“Often the media will describe the compound as “synthetic marijuana” when it has little relationship to the natural plant”, Bell said. “People have smoked cannabis with little or no harmful effects and expect the same results from this designer drug. I spoke with an emergency room practitioner who said in over ten years in practice he has never seen a toxic reaction to natural cannabis admitted to his ER.”
Marijuana law reform advocates are concerned that the misrepresentation of the designer drug (poison) may hurt their efforts to educate the public on the legal reform of the natural plant.
Currently 20 states and the District of Columbia have enacted medical marijuana laws and two states have legalized cannabis. This means around 50 percent of Americans live under some form of marijuana legalization.
Georgia passed a medical marijuana research law in 1980 but the program was halted.