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Synthetic Cannabis


What is synthetic cannabis? 

Synthetic cannabis is a new psychoactive substance that is designed to mimic or produce similar effects to cannabis. It has been sold online since 2004.

Synthetic cannabis is produced with man-made chemicals that create similar effects to delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis. However, reports suggest it also produces additional negative effects. These powdered chemicals are mixed with solvents and added to herbs and sold in colourful, branded packets. The chemicals usually vary from batch to batch as manufacturers try to stay ahead of the law, so different packets can produce different effects even if the name and branding on the package looks the same.


Other names

Synthetic cannabis is marketed under different brand names.

Spice was the earliest in a series of synthetic cannabis products sold in many European countries. Since then a number of similar products have been developed, such as Kronic, Northern Lights, Mojo, Lightning Gold, Lightning Red and Godfather.

Synthetic cannabis is also marketed as aphrodisiac tea, herbal incense and potpourri.


How is it used? 

It’s most commonly smoked and is sometimes drunk as a tea.


Effects of synthetic cannabis

There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.

Synthetic cannabis affects everyone differently, based on:

  • Size, weight and health

  • Whether the person is used to taking it

  • Whether other drugs are taken around the same time

  • The amount taken


The chemical that is used and its strength (varies from batch to batch)

Synthetic cannabis is relatively new, so there is limited information available about its short and long-term effects. However, it has been reported to have similar effects to cannabis along with some additional negative and potentially more harmful ones including:

  • Fast and irregular heartbeat

  • Racing thoughts 

  • Agitation and paranoia

  • Psychosis

  • Aggressive and violent behaviour 

  • Chest pain

  • Vomiting

  • Acute kidney injury 

  • Seizures 

  • Stroke


Use of synthetic cannabis is likely to be more dangerous when:

  • Taken in combination with alcohol or other drugs

  • Driving or operating heavy machinery

  • Judgment or motor coordination is required

  • Alone (in case medical assistance is required)

  • The person has a mental health problem

  • The person has a cardiac problem


-Information from

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