A recently published study is highlighting the dangers associated with the increase in use of synthetic marijuana by claiming the increased use could lead to higher rates of illness and even death.
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and described the dangers associated with the drug. It also notes the growing popularity of the drug among adolescence.
Synthetic marijuana is also called incense, potpourri, or herbal smoking blend and can be found in gas stations and convenience stores around the country. Synthetic marijuana is comprised of a mixture of dried herbs and spices that are then sprayed with chemicals that produce a high similar to marijuana when smoked. The packages are printed with a warning that it is not for human consumption.
"These substances are not benign," the paper's lead author Andrew Monte, an assistant professor in emergency medicine and medical toxicology at Colorado University's School of Medicine, said in a statement.
"You can buy designer drugs of abuse at convenience stores and on the internet. People may not realize how dangerous these drugs can be -- up to 1,000 time's stronger binding to cannabis receptors when compared to traditional marijuana."
Heath experts add that consuming synthetic marijuana effects serotonin and other stimulant receptors in the brain which can lead to delirium, seizures, strokes as well as various respiratory ailments
"Synthetic marijuana is illegal under DEA law, but companies that make it are a step ahead with new chemicals and packaging on standby all the time." said Monte.
Officials also reveal that there has been a significant increase in the use of synthetic marijuana in the last 5 years.
"Outbreaks like this are likely to keep happening," Monte added. "We need better testing to identify these substances, open communication with public health officials when outbreaks occur and we need to make sure physicians ask patients the right questions about their drug use."