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NIDA. (2017, November 6). K2/Spice: An Unpredictable Danger. Retrieved from

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The NIDA Blog Team
November 6 2017

It’s impossible to know what’s in the drug called “K2” or “Spice.” And that’s only one of the unpredictable things about it.

K2/Spice is a synthetic cannabinoid. It can be:

  • Sprayed on dried plant material and smoked.
  • Sold in liquid form and used with an e-cigarette or a vaporizer, or as a drink.

Check out the information below for the facts about K2/Spice.

K2/Spice is not marijuana.

  • It’s often called “synthetic marijuana” or “fake weed” because some of its chemicals are like the chemicals in marijuana. But the effects of K2/Spice can be different and unpredictable; in some cases, they’re severe or even life-threatening.
  • Shredded, dried plant material + man-made chemicals do not equal a “natural” drug.

You never know what you’re getting with K2/Spice.

  • In 2014, 177 different synthetic cannabinoids were reported by authorities. The amount and type of chemicals change from one batch to another.
  • When new laws make it illegal to use certain chemicals in K2/Spice, manufacturers of these drugs just change the chemicals they use.

The health effects of K2/Spice are unpredictable.

  • These drugs act on many different receptors in the brain, including receptors that THC (found in marijuana) binds to. They produce unpredictable effects that can be dangerous.
  • They can cause nausea and vomiting, rapid heart rate, paranoia, hallucinations, violent behavior, and suicidal thoughts.

Using K2/Spice can be harmful to your health.

  • In 2016, there were 2,695 calls to poison control centers about people who were harmed by using K2/Spice. (The Poison Control Hotline is 1-800-222-1222.)
  • About 28,531 ER visits were linked to synthetic cannabinoids in 2011. Thirty percent of these visits involved females; 70 percent involved males.
  • Seventy-eight percent of these ER visits were among adolescents and young adults, ages 12 to 29.

The only sure thing about K2/Spice is that it’s dangerous.