OCT 06, 2022 8:43 AM PDT

Synthetic Cannabinoids and Their Effects

WRITTEN BY: Helaine Krysik

Synthetic cannabinoids are a manmade alternative to cannabis, otherwise known as designer drugs, or “fake weed.” While they are marketed as a safe alternative to the real thing, they are anything but that. The side effects of fake weed can be toxic and very different from those of real, natural cannabis.

Fake weed is typically available in the form of a spray that is then applied to dried leaves, which the user then smokes or vapes.

Researchers have found that some synthetic cannabinoids bind more strongly to a user’s cell receptors – the ones affected by THC – than cannabis does. As a result, the fake weed produces much stronger effects, and the result can be unpredictable as well as dangerous.

Additionally, since the chemical makeup of many products containing synthetic cannabinoids is unknown, and can vary widely from batch to batch, the effects might be wildly different than what the user is expecting. Synthetic cannabinoids are not regulated, nor are they considered part of the legal cannabis industry.

While the effects that a user is most likely looking for are elevated and relaxing, that might not be what they end up getting. Actual effects might range from extreme anxiety to hallucinations.

Furthermore, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that synthetic cannabinoids can be life threatening. It is extremely rare, almost unheard of, for natural cannabis to cause fatal overdoses. However, fatal overdoses can and have occurred with fake weed.

Even if fake weed does not cause a fatal overdose, it can cause organ damage, or at the very least, a trip to the E.R. It’s not worth the risk.

It’s better to stick with legal cannabis industry products from reliable manufacturers; products that have been tested thoroughly and are deemed safe for consumption.

Sources: CDC, NIH, Healthline

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Helaine is a cannabis industry writer and marketing consultant. She has been active in the Illinois cannabis industry since 2020, and writes for a variety of national publications.
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