K2 or another name for it is “Spice” is a chemical compound that mimics marijuana. It can be bought in gas stations, convenience stores and places that sell incense. It clearly says on the package “not for human consumption” but the retailers are greedy and they want the money. They market it to young and vulnerable people.
One of the leading researches, Jahan Marcu is one of the few cannabinoid scientists in America. Based at Temple University in Philadelphia, he also serves on the medical advisory board of the national medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. Marcu is uniquely familiar with both natural marijuana cannabinoids and these new synthetics. He published a landmark research paper proving the anti-cancer properties of THC and is considered one of the top experts in this field.
Here’s what he says about K2/Spice. K2 and Spice products have been dubbed, incorrectly, as “synthetic marijuana” by the media because the main high-producing ingredients, JWH-018 and others, are chemical compounds that activate the cannabinoid receptor system. But these chemicals were created for laboratory research and work in a much different way than natural pot.
From the stand point of a cannabinoid researcher, are these synthetic cannabinoid compounds something that humans should be smoking?
NO. The main reason is the animal data that is coming back is not that promising. There are a lot of JWH compounds and JWH is unique; it’s very potent at low doses. What is a little scary is that around 10 mg per kilogram in rats there was some decreased breathing. We’re talking about 1 milligram per kilogram that was able to cause catalepsy in mice.
This may indicate some off-target effects. What I mean by that is some interaction with the opioid receptors or something else. We’re seeing decreased breathing rates in rats and sort of respiratory depression from these compounds that strongly suggests that those effects are not mediated through the cannabinoid receptor system.
I have seen some rumors of people seeking the benefits of medical marijuana turning to these synthetic compounds so they can beat a drug tests. Would they have any medical benefit?
At least when you’re going to whole plant cannabis, you can look to the scientific literature and know what you’re getting. There are over 500 compounds in the cannabis plant, but we know what they are. We even know what happens when it burns. No one has done those kinds of studies on Spice. No one has hooked up a Spice cigarette to a gas chromatograph and analyzed the smoke. Those studies have been done with tobacco and marijuana for decades. We have a wealth of information about whole plant marijuana. So you know way more what you are getting into when you use a drug like cannabis.
What’s up with the new urine test for K2?
The game might be over for some of the K2 and Spice compounds. The original research article on the metabolite in Spice – what the body does with them – was published by a group in Moscow. Basically, since only a small amount of the drug is needed to produce an effect, the levels of detection must be very sensitive in order to find these JWH-018 metabolites.
The structure of JWH-018 and (natural) THC is very different. If you looked at the two compounds side-by-side you would not have to be a chemist to see that they look vastly different. The unique part of JWH is the indol ring: It’s a two-ring structure with one nitrogen; this is a common motif found in other hallucinogens like LSD, mescaline and psilocybin, but is not found in (natural) THC.
Researchers have found that the body modifies the indol ring in JWH-018 and thus have developed the drug test around that modification. I’m not sure if it’s the same thing I saw marketed in California, but that is what is in the literature right now.
Do you think these will be effective tests or because of the detection levels someone will have to smoke a lot of this stuff to show up?
You’d have to be smoking a fair amount of Spice to be found in a urinalysis. It’s unclear right now because those studies just haven’t been done yet.
Open your loved ones eye’s to the dangers of K2/Spice. As a man who deals with teens and young adults on a daily basis I see the dangers first-hand. I had one teen doing $100 a day of this crap.