It’s been known for a while that synthetic marijuana—a drug that consists of plant material coated with chemicals intended to make the user feel “stoned”—is a growing problem in the military and substance-abuse treatment programs because it cannot be detected in standard urine drug tests.
But a few San Diego doctors shed some extra light on the drug at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting recently when they announced they had linked the drug to psychosis. Doctors from San Diego’s Naval Medical Center reported on 10 patients who were hospitalized after using the drug, which is commonly referred to as Spice. The patients, ranging from age 21 to 25, reported varied levels of auditory and visual hallucinations, delusions and thoughts of suicide. Some patients’ symptoms lasted less than a week, while others’ lasted several months.
Spice—also known as K2, Blaze or Red X Dawn—is listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Synthetic cannabis blends were legal until the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency outlawed them in 2010.