Synthetic Cannabis: legal madness?


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Here in New Zealand there have been legal protests up and down the country today, the subject is legal highs, synthetic cannabis, or K2. They are sold and are widely available in high street retail outlets.

“We don’t want a law change or a promise of stricter controls, we want it banned,” she said.

“We’re tired of seeing families in strife and trouble. Alcohol, pokies, synthetics is the last straw. We do not want another addiction for our whanau.”

Synthetic cannabis is a psychoactive designer drug created by spraying natural herbs with synthetic chemicals that, when consumed, produce psychoactive effects similar to the effects of cannabis. It is often known by the brand names K2 and Spice, both of which are genericized trademarks used for any synthetic cannabis product. Synthetic cannabis is often termed spice product. There is controversy about calling Spice and K2 synthetic cannabis. “Synthetic” is considered a misnomer, because the ingredients contained in these products are mimics, not copies of THC.

Research on the safety of synthetic cannabis is now becoming available. Initial studies are focused on the role of synthetic cannabis in psychosis. Synthetic cannabis may precipitate psychosis and in some cases it may be prolonged. Some studies suggest that synthetic cannabinoid intoxication is associated with acute psychosis, worsening of previously stable psychotic disorders, and it may trigger a chronic (long-term) psychotic disorder among vulnerable individuals such as those with a family history of mental illness.

When synthetic cannabis blends first went on sale in the early 2000s (decade), it was thought that they achieved an effect through a mixture of legal herbs. Laboratory analysis in 2008 showed that this is not the case, and that they in fact contain synthetic cannabinoids that act on the body in a similar way to cannabinoids naturally found in cannabis, such as THC. A large and complex variety of synthetic cannabinoids, most often cannabicyclohexanol, JWH-018, JWH-073, or HU-210, are used in an attempt to avoid the laws that make cannabis illegal, making synthetic cannabis a designer drug.

Synthetic cannabis can be bought in retail outlets here in New Zealand.

One of the retailers, Skingraft, had a sign on the door stating “we believe that the following are more harmful to our community than synthetics, statistically – alcohol, tobacco, gambling and sugar.”

I don’t understand how chemically altering something that we know through history is harmful, can be seen to be better? Surely that is worse?

How can it be legal to have your mind set ‘chemically altered’ through taking drugs? That cannot be safe to either yourself, or the rest of society.

What are your thoughts?

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