Synthetic Marijuana (most often known as "Spice") refers to a wide variety of herbal mixtures that produce experiences similar to marijuana (cannabis) and that are marketed as "safe," legal alternatives to that drug. Sold under many names, including K2, fake weed, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, Moon Rocks, and others — and labeled "not for human consumption" — these products contain dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives that are responsible for their psychoactive (mind-altering) effects.
Labels on Spice products often claim that they contain "natural" psycho-active material taken from a variety of plants. Spice products do contain dried plant material, but chemical analyses show that their active ingredients are synthetic (or designer) cannabinoid compounds. Spice products are popular among young people; of the illicit drugs most used by high-school seniors, they are second only to marijuana. Some Spice products are sold as “incense,” but they more closely resemble potpourri. Like marijuana, Spice is abused mainly by smoking. Sometimes Spice is mixed with marijuana or is prepared as an herbal infusion for drinking.
For more information on Spice, see
- http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/attachements.cfm/ att_80086_EN_Spice%20Thematic%20paper%20—%20final%20version.pdf (PDF, 253KB)
- I-Science: NIDA's Look into what we still need to know about Synthetic Cannabinoids