The Lure and Danger of Synthetic Marijuana in Colorado

Marijuana news has been trending since storefronts legally selling marijuana opened on January 1st. Surprisingly the topic of “synthetic marijuana” has resurfaced as well with the New England Journal of Medicine reporting on the use of synthetic marijuana in Colorado yesterday.

During a one month period last year in Colorado, emergency room doctors saw a surge of patients that, according to Dr. Andrew Monte with the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, “were coming in with a very severe clinical illness.” Many had severe delirium, seizures and trouble breathing.

Monte and others later discovered the illness was linked to synthetic marijuana otherwise known as K2, Spice, Black Mamba, and Crazy Clown. These products sent over 250 patients to the emergency room in Colorado during the month period between August and September last year.

The use of synthetic marijuana in Colorado begs the question of why people would use such a risky drug when they live in a state where marijuana was legalized. The answer is that it comes with a cheaper price tag and easier accessibility than marijuana and the demographic that uses it are often men in their 20s who need to pass drug tests.

While the surge of cases seems to have been isolated to the one-month period last year, Monte believes the cases are underreported and many don’t seek medical attention or they conceal their use of the drug if they do.

The demographic that uses synthetic marijuana to pass drug tests is likely the same demographic that need addiction treatment services as well – because whatever situation led them to have mandatory drug testing wasn’t enough to deter them from drug abuse. This is a main indicator of a substance abuse problem – the continued use of addictive substances despite negative consequences. Unfortunately this happens when the disease of addiction is in the driver’s seat and not the person’s best judgment.

At Harmony’s drug rehab center in Colorado, we help young adults and adults get back in the driver’s seat and beat their addictions. We find it especially important to treat those that are experimenting with dangerous synthetic drugs because the health and mental health consequences, as reported by the New England Journal of Medicine, are immediate and still largely unknown.