illustrated marijuana background

The Truth Behind Synthetic Marijuana


Sober Recovery Expert Author

illustrated marijuana background

Synthetic marijuana is unlike the marijuana most people are familiar with and the type of cannabis products that are becoming legal or decimalized in several states. It is typically a combination of herbs sprayed with dangerous lab-created chemicals. Spice, Black Mamba, K2, Scooby Doo are all alternative names for synthetic marijuana, a “legal” and easily accessible drug to kids.

Young users believe these man-made varieties offer a safe alternative to natural marijuana, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sold under the false perception that synthetic marijuana is simply a mixture of herbs and spices, it actually poses a severe threat to the health of kids. The level and sources of the ingredients are primarily unidentified, often resulting in higher potency which also leads to serious side effects.

Uncovering the facts on this dangerously misconstrued drug.

The Facts

The increased popularity of synthetic marijuana among high school students is alarming. In 2011, this drug was consumed by 11.4% of school seniors, making it the most commonly used drug after “real” marijuana.

Tragically, synthetic marijuana use was associated with 11,561 reports of poisonings in the United States between January 2009 and April 2012.

A Monitoring the Future study published this month produced some interesting (and disturbing) relationships in synthetic marijuana use among teens:

  • Students who go out 4 to 7 nights per week for fun were at high risk for experimenting and continuing use, perhaps due to increased exposure to others who use these products during these nightly activities.
  • Lifetime use of alcohol, cigarettes and other illicit drugs significantly increased likelihood of use.
  • Most importantly, frequency of lifetime marijuana use strongly correlated with frequency of synthetic cannabinoids use.


The authors of the study asserted, "Our main finding was that very few ‘never-users’ of natural marijuana have ever tried synthetic marijuana. Only 0.5% of non-marijuana users reported use. […] Results do suggest that it is mainly marijuana users who are at greatest risk for use."

At the end of it all, educating adolescents on the dangers of this ever-increasingly accessible drug is an essential part of prevention. If you or someone you know is seeking help with substance abuse or addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.

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