We are learning just how many youths and young adults are having serious health complications from synthetic marijuana.

The Drug Abuse Warning Network has released its’ first study on synthetic marijuana.

K2, Spice and other synthetic compounds that mimic the effects of marijuana high sent 11,406 people — mostly teens and young adults — to the ER in 2010.

The report, found that children ages 12 to 17 accounted for one-third of the emergency room visits. Young adults ages 18 to 24 accounted for another 35%.

“This report confirms that synthetic drugs cause substantial damage to public health and safety,” Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said.

Spice and K2, marketed as legal, fake pot and labeled as herbal incense, emerged in 2009 as popular drugs among teenagers and college students, who could purchase the substances online, in head shops, and in convenience stores.

Problems quickly emerged. Doctors reported teenagers arriving in the emergency room with high fevers and strange behavior.

The packaging clearly states “not for human consumption” but that almost serves as a beacon for teens that “hey this is the stuff you want to mess around with.”

The DEA instituted an emergency ban on the key chemical components. In July, Congress banned sales of K2, Spice and other synthetic drugs under the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act.

However, amateur chemists continue to make these compounds and hand them out to people, treating them almost as guinea pigs.

It’s important for parents to understand what these compounds are, and for them to have a meaningful dialogue with their kids about the dangers.

Advertisements