Thursday, August 28, 2014

Scary Spice: The Problem with Synthetic Marijuana

I'll be the first to say as a mother and pediatric nurse, I was less than thrilled when my home state of Colorado legalized marijuana. I think it's a very bad idea because, even though there is an age limit, we know when something is legal, the stigma with using is goes down. I have seriously heard more than one teen say, "It's legal. It can't be bad for you."

But, we'll save that discussion for another time. 

Recently, the state of New Hampshire has been in the news for 34 overdoses related to Spice. Spice is a "legal drug" of dried plant material with a chemical sprayed on it that is structurally similar to THC, the active component in marijuana. Typically, it is smoked to induce a high. 

Law enforcement if having a hard time keeping this stuff off the streets. The issue becomes, once they identify the chemical nature of the substance and make it illegal, the street chemist can simply differ the compound by one molecule and it will be legal again because it doesn't exactly match what was outlawed. Some states are trying to combat this by making a law more inclusive by saying "this compound and similar molecular structures". Thus far, they are having difficulty doing that. 

What are some of the symptoms of a Spice overdose? This list comes from the linked article. 

1. Seizures. 
2. Decreased level of consciousness to coma. 
3. Vomiting.
4. Hallucinations and paranoia. 
5. Increased heart rate and blood pressure-- enough to be dangerous. 
6. Anxiety.
7. Threatening behavior. 
8. Headaches.
9. Difficulty Speaking.

There is no reversal agent for a Spice overdose. In the ER, treatment centers around controlling the symptoms and supporting dangerous changes in vital signs

Are you for or against the legalization of marijuana? 

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