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Would the increased legalization of marijuana in additional states drive down the demand for this chemical imposter of marijuana?
By: Kerry Bazany
Cannabis. Marijuana. Mary Jane.
There are several names for a plant that many people smoke and even eat. With the growing political changes in the United States, marijuana has become more and more mainstream – even inspiring cookbooks highlighting the plant as its base ingredient.
But marijuana is not new. And neither is its hype.
Marijuana has a long and interesting history that is far beyond the scope of this article. Its discovery and first use dates back to 6,000 BC in China for mostly medicinal purposes. The infamous “weed” made its continental North American debut in approximately 1840.
This outbreak is still ongoing. But with a recall, we hope it will be over soon.
Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states, and it’s legal for adults over 21 to smoke marijuana without a doctor’s note in nine states. Marijuana for recreational use is legal in nine states. But that fact has not deterred those who wish to make an already natural substance more potent.
The Illinois Department of Health confirmed that three people in Illinois have recently died after they ingested synthetic marijuana. The deaths included a 22 year old man and the latest victim, a man in his 40’s, suffered severe bleeding before he died. One hundred and seven people in central Illinois and the Chicagoland area have experienced severe bleeding after using the synthetic marijuana.
These illnesses are not new: in 2016, over 30 people were hospitalized in New York City. The fatalities, however, are. New and more toxic chemical ingredients are being added to create this “fake weed”, and the results are deadly. And due to the proliferation of corner stores and head shops in lower income neighborhoods, this unregulated, unpredictable substance is readily available and popular in such areas. Its popularity derives from its relatively inexpensive price, e.g. an ounce of authentic marijuana can be sold on the street for up to $350, while the synthetic type sells for about $50 online or $10 per bag in corner stores.
Synthetic marijuana is also known as a cannabinoid because it is similar in composition to the actual marijuana plant, save for the chemicals that are added (usually sprayed on) to dry, shredded plant material. The plant material usually resembles marijuana, and it is sold with the intention of being smoked or in liquid form for vaporization.
Synthetic marijuana is also called new psychoactive substances (NPS). They are not regulated and are intended to produce the same euphoric effects as illegal drugs. Consumers believe that the ingestion of these products is safe because of their belief that that the substance is “natural”. In fact, the only natural part of synthetic marijuana is the shredded plant material. The rest are dangerous chemical additives, yet these synthetic cannabinoids are marketed to the public as a safe, legal alternative.
For expanded coverage, read The Lange Law Firm's full article Last Dance With Mary Jane – Deaths Associated With Synthetic Marijuana.
For insights into food safety, read The Lange Law Firm's blog Make Food Safe.