Synthetic marijuana may not be the real thing, but the damage it does to a person’s body is very real. Multiple studies have found that synthetic marijuana products can cause dangerous reactions including rapid heart rate and seizures, but a new study reveals that this fake marijuana can also cause kidney damage.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that it is possible to injure the kidneys by smoking synthetic marijuana (sometimes labeled as Spice or K2). The CDC studied 16 individuals who had suffered acute kidney injury after having smoked synthetic marijuana in 2012. The individuals studied were from Kansas, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wyoming.
Mimicking the Real Thing
Synthetic marijuana is a drug designed to mimic the same effects that the marijuana plant produces. Drugs are dissolved in a solvent and then applied to plant materials. When it is smoked, the drugs mimic effects of the psychoactive ingredient, THC, which is found in marijuana.
Just as there are bans on real marijuana, the federal and state government bans some of the chemicals that are used to make synthetic marijuana.
Kidney Failure Within Hours
The CDC is not sure what exactly caused the kidneys to be damaged in the individuals who smoked the synthetic marijuana, but they found that the damage done to the kidneys was almost immediate.
While it took a few days for some patients to feel sick after smoking, others reported that within hours they became ill. Patients reported abdominal and flank pain and experienced nausea and vomiting. Their illness showed that each of them was experiencing a stage of kidney failure. Each patient recovered, but five out of the 16 patients needed dialysis.
Health Problems Related to Synthetic Marijuana
Previous studies on the dangers of synthetic marijuana revealed that it caused other health problems. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, some of these dangers included hallucinations, rapid heart rate and seizures.
Co-author and medical officer for the CDC National Center for Environmental Health, Michael Schwartz, stresses that synthetic cannabinoids can cause unpredictable health problems. They are not safe. The chemicals that are being put into these synthetics frequently change, which can cause precious time to investigate when these patients arrive with medical emergencies.
While marijuana may be legalized in only a few states, people from coast-to-coast are experimenting with synthetic marijuana. Through the Internet and other sources, people can easily acquire synthetic marijuana. Easy access does not make it safe. Some may believe that because they’re not smoking the “real thing,” they are immune to suffering from any dangerous health problems. This first study on kidney damage from synthetic marijuana proves that “fake” marijuana causes “real” life-harming effects.