Synthetic marijuana isn’t a new drug, but it’s one that law enforcement agencies, policy makers and advocates have been fighting with limited success. The products turned up over a decade ago as legal items labeled as “not for human consumption.” Those in the know, often teens, smoked these products labeled as potpourri or incense. They experienced a boom, but a crackdown was thought to have largely eliminated these synthetic marijuana products. It seems that the crackdown didn’t work and the drug is once again wreaking havoc in the lives of young people.
Teens Still Using Synthetic Marijuana
The Monitoring the Future study surveys eighth, 10th, and 12th grade students in the U.S. every year. The survey asks questions about drug use, drinking and smoking. Recent results show a troubling fact about synthetic marijuana. Although its use has not gone up, it hasn’t declined either. While no increase might be seen as a small victory, in this case it’s not. With the significant amount of effort, funding and policy changes that have gone into combatting synthetic marijuana, a steady state in use is a definite defeat. According to the survey, more than 11 percent of high school seniors are using these drugs.
Synthetic Marijuana and Teen Deaths
Synthetic marijuana is a product that is made to mimic the cannabis plant. Manufacturers of these drugs make synthetic versions of cannabinoids, the active compounds in cannabis. They spray the solution of compounds onto dried herbs or other plant material so that it resembles marijuana. Although the Drug Enforcement Administration has banned several of the synthetic substances, clever drug makers just come up with new ones. The danger in using these products is that it’s impossible to know what’s really in them. That danger has become evident in recent, troubling news stories of teens using synthetic marijuana. The product appeals to teens because it’s sometimes legal, but even when sold illegally, it’s easy to get. Too many teens are paying the price for their experimentation with their lives. In one case, a young man in California took one hit from a friend’s synthetic marijuana. He fell asleep later that night and never woke up again. In another tragic story, a 14-year-old boy tried synthetic marijuana once and later shot and killed himself.
Speaking Out About Synthetic Marijuana to Teens and Parents
Not all teens who use synthetic marijuana will die, but many will suffer other serious consequences. A young girl in Texas battling her addiction to synthetic marijuana is speaking out about her ordeal and warning others. She’s only 14 and first tried the drug at the age of 12. She not only got hooked, but also started selling the drugs to her classmates in middle school to keep feeding her habit. It was only when she was arrested that she was finally able to stop using and began to make slow steps toward change. This synthetic product destroyed her life at such a young age, and she knows of kids as young as 8 using it as well. It’s important for parents and teens alike to know that synthetic marijuana has not gone away. It may not be in the news as much as it was several years ago, but it is still around and young people are paying a high price for using it. Awareness can spread the word about this dangerous drug and help to save lives, especially by helping teens seek treatment for their addictions. Parents and teens should speak out about and share their ordeals to help protect others, too.