Synthetic Marijuana Kills Teen

synthetic marijuana

The state by state debate about the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana and medical marijuana can sit down. It isn’t the only cannabis-centered issue that has the nation’s attention. While medical marijuana is gaining favor for treatment of seizures in children and nausea and pain in patients suffering from acute illnesses, synthetic marijuana is having the opposite effect. It is being blamed for the deaths and injuries of increasing numbers of young people.

synthetic marijuanaSynthetic marijuana is a designer drug that contains synthetic cannabinoids that mimic some of the effects of marijuana on the body. Because there is no quality control on the product, however, and the chemical additives have been blamed for multiple cases of stroke, seizure, brain damage, and death. Because neither the chemicals nor their concentrations is regulated, users have no idea how to predict what the reaction will be once they have used the drug. HU-210, one of the active ingredients found in spice that was confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection is determined to be 100-800 times more active than THC, the psychoactive component of natural marijuana.

Equally troubling is the drug’s availability to young people. Synthetic marijuana can be purchased over the counter in gas stations and head shops. Packages are labeled as not safe for human consumption, but this doesn’t stop users who are looking for a non-detectable high. Synthetic marijuana is marketed as natural incense and herbal smoking blends. It is known as Spice, K2, and spice products.

Earlier this July, Connor Eckhardt, a California teen, died from complications caused after smoking a spice product. According to Emily Foxhall, writing for The Daily Pilot, Connor took a hit of spice on Saturday night and by midday Monday he was in Hoag Health Center in Newport Beach, California in a coma with a swollen brain. Connor’s family was on a trip to Puerto Rico when their son and brother became gravely effected by the drug. After learning that he was in the hospital, they flew home to be with him. Though it was clear that Connor would not recover, he remained on life support for four additional days while his organs were maintained for donation. During this time, his adoptive parents and siblings sat by his bedside and prayed and spent time with him.

Because of the health risks and unpredictability of the various versions of spice products, six states had banned the product as of 2010. The problem is that instead of banning the product in general, individual components are banned. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has identified five active and highly toxic chemicals often found in spice product that it considers to be Schedule I controlled substances.  Manufacturers sidestep bans by substituting different ingredients in their products. In Germany, France, Ireland, Switzerland, and Romania, spice is illegal. In Finland, spice product is considered a medicine and is unavailable except by prescriptions which are, in practice, not given. The product was first found in Europe in 2004 and has become a popular party drug because of its marijuana-like high and easy availability.

The synthetic marijuana products known as spice product, Spice, and K2 are different than shisha, a fruit-infused tobacco product that is smoked through a hookah pipe that is gaining widespread popularity amongst the high school and college-aged students. Though shisha carries the same risks that are associated with tobacco consumption, it does not carry the mind-altering and severe physical risks that are associated with the synthetic chemicals contained in spice products. Parents are urged to speak to their children about the potential harmful effects of using spice products. Further information can be found in the sources below.

By Kaley Perkins

National Institute of Health: National Institute on Drug Abuse
Daily Pilot
University of Michigan
Healthy Living

18 Responses to "Synthetic Marijuana Kills Teen"

  1. jimmi   December 1, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    They are not protecting “us”, they are keeping them from people who want to use it.

  2. Dave   August 16, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Spice obviously should be illegal. The state and cities are not doing their duty to protect us from such harmful drugs. People in the Conner’s neighborhood should organize a boycott of those stores that sell it. These stores will probably back down and stop selling it. This is a legal way to slow down the sales while waiting for the government to act.

  3. nonya   August 6, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Agree. Pharmaceutical drugs will kill you before Marijuana will.

  4. heidi brodie   August 6, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    great debate

  5. Jeremy Roemmich   August 5, 2014 at 8:57 am

    “The state by state debate about the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana and medical marijuana can sit down.”

    It’s the prohibition of marijuana that allows predatory companies to produce, and sell products such as spice. It’s the prohibition of marijuana that allows stores with questionable ethics to make a quick buck selling products such as this. I hate to talk politics when it revolves around a family’s tragedy, but the reality is that it’s a political issue because if the government wasn’t failing the people of our country with unjust prohibition based of myths, and half truths formed in a time before modern research, these products wouldn’t be available, and this tragedy could have been prevented.

    It’s time for our government to step up, and go after the real drugs that are threatening our children, and prevent any other families from having to deal with such heartbreak.
    RIP Connor, your death will not be in vain. Your story will help to spread awareness of the dangers of synthetic “marijuana,” and will help to force the government to ban it’s sale. Sadly such a ban will come far too late to prevent your untimely death, my heart breaks for your family. 🙁

  6. Joe   August 3, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Infact natural cannabis is safer than asprin and has over a million more beneficial medical, industrial and social uses. Your body produces Cannabiniods which are identical to photo Cannabinoids which are found in the cannabis and hemp plants. These Cannabinoids all feed our endocannabinoid system which regulates ALL of our bodies organs and functions. Your endocannabinoid system has the ability to cure itself of almost every disease naturally… Cancer, epilepsy, diabeties, Crohn’s, colitis…… The list is endless.

    Just go do some actual research instead of googling government websites that offer no kind of facts or evidence to back up their lies….
    Go research actual clinical studies and look at actual success stories and anecdotes.

    Here’s a start…

    The world is waking up …. It’s time you did too.

  7. Mardene Patton   August 2, 2014 at 1:59 pm


    • Joe   August 3, 2014 at 11:35 am

      Correction…. All those synthetic drugs are poison. Cannabis is less addictive than coffee and less harmful too.

  8. Dave   August 2, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    I’m glad I don’t use any kind of marijuana. It’s a waste of time.

    • Joe   August 3, 2014 at 11:42 am

      It isn’t a waste of time for me … If I didn’t use cannabis (marijuana) oil daily I would be in excruciating pain all day, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed, eat any food or sleep properly at all.. Cannabis has saved my life.

      Don’t be so quick to judge something you clearly know nothing about.

      This story is about synthetic cannabis which is not natural cannabis……
      it is a dangerous chemical with a similar name that is all.

  9. vibun   August 2, 2014 at 10:45 am

    How the hell is this legal, yet actual marijuana isnt…?

  10. Kaley Perkins (@kaley_perkins)   August 2, 2014 at 9:00 am

    MJ et al, I hadn’t gone far enough in my own analysis to make the connection between the war on drugs and the unintended consequence of that war crating a knock off market of deadly designer drugs. Appreciate you all pointing that out and taking the discussion a step further.

  11. Justin Case   August 2, 2014 at 1:50 am

    They have changed the formula so many times to keep ahead of the law the chemicals don’t even resemble cannabanoids anymore. I do wish I could remember where I read that. I don’t think a synthetic cannabanoid could kill. I have done research and every one is still calling them synthetic cannabanoids. Basically the government stepped in to make it better and screwed everything up worse… as usual.

  12. Duncan20903   August 1, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Synthetic marijuana is a very valid descriptor. Mike, what in the world are you talking about?

    • stel1776   August 2, 2014 at 7:53 am

      Synthetic marijuana is very different than marijuana. For on, there is no medically verified cases of marijuana overdose deaths [Calabria et al. 2010]. There are plenty for synthetic “marijuana”.

    • stel1776   August 2, 2014 at 7:54 am

      Synthetic marijuana is very different than marijuana. For one, there are no medically verified cases of marijuana overdose deaths [Calabria et al. 2010]. There are plenty of synthetic “marijuana” overdose deaths however.

  13. Mike   August 1, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I would be offended that they use the term “synthetic marijuana”, but I pour leftover toluene and everclear in my cars’ tank and call it “synthetic gasoline”.

    Glad I got that 100,000 mile warranty… only a few more replacements to go!

  14. MJ   August 1, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Prohibition and the war on drugs is working SO WELL that it has actually created new and more dangerous drugs that can be legally purchased in replace of non-fatal and less dangerous drugs/plant matter. Keep fighting that war on drugs….it’s working like a charm! Not!


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