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What is Spice?

Spice can cause a wide array of side effects, including high blood pressure, vomiting, kidney failure, and psychotic episodes.

In recent years, there has been a boom of synthetic marijuana substitutes flooding the market, promising a safe, natural high. Spice is one of the first brands of this substance, and has since become a generic term for synthetic marijuana. All synthetic marijuanas are packaged as incense or potpourri, and marked as not for human consumption. To truly understand what Spice is, you need to know what is in it, who uses it, and what its effects are.

What is in Spice?

Because it is labeled as being not for consumption, there are no regulations as to the ingredients of Spice. Not only this, but to avoid changing laws, the ingredients are often changed to circumvent certain illegal substance regulations. There are a few things that all Spice contains, such as:

  • a synthetic cannabinoid (the active ingredient)
  • an assortment of dried plant matter and herbs
  • natural and/or artificial scents
  • natural and/or artificial flavorings

Again, there are no regulatory agencies that inspect Spice for unsafe chemicals or items. Despite how it is marketed, it truly is not safe for human consumption.

Who Uses Spice?


Spice is a synthetic cannabinoid.

Even though Spice is officially sold as incense, it is almost exclusively used for the purpose of a recreational high. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland, there are a surprisingly large number of Spice users. Some of these are:

  • high school age students
  • college students
  • young adults
  • habitual marijuana users
  • inmates on probation or parole (usually to avoid a positive drug screen result)
  • first time drug users

The largest demographic of users are young people. This is primarily due to the fact that Spice is touted as a safe, all-natural, and legal alternative to marijuana. However, it is not at all natural (except for the random plant parts), only marginally legal (and only in some places), and not at all safe.

What are the Side Effects of Spice?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Spice has a number of different side effects. Some of these include:

  • lethargy
  • apathy
  • decreased blood flow to the heart
  • high blood pressure
  • dependence
  • withdrawal
  • vomiting
  • hallucinations
  • agitation
  • confusion
  • kidney disease or failure
  • anxiety
  • psychotic episodes

There has even been some recent evidence that long-term users of Spice are developing symptoms of heavy metal poisoning.

What Makes Spice Dangerous?

It is true that the various untested, and often unknown, ingredients in Spice can be dangerous. It is also true that the side effects of Spice abuse, which are considerably direr than marijuana itself, are dangerous. However, what is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of Spice is the fact that it is marketed to our youth as a safe alternative to marijuana. This creates a very dangerous culture among those that are very impressionable, furthering the destructiveness of Spice. If you or someone you love is using Spice, even occasionally, you should stop immediately, and seek out help if you need it. For more information on Spice or Spice addiction, call 1-800-895-1695.

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