A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this week says there is a link between smoking synthetic cannabis (Spice, K2) and acute kidney injury and even kidney failure. But as for how much of a link there is, scientists aren't exactly sure.
The study looks at sixteen patients admitted to hospitals for unexplained kidney injuries in 2012. The only commonality between them was that they had all used synthetic cannabinoids prior to their injury. While the report couldn't link specific brands or types of the fake weed to all 12 patients, they did identify a number of questionable chemicals that caused the patients to have increased creatinine concentrations that contributed to kidney failure.
"Review of medical records, follow-up interviews with several patients, and laboratory analysis of product samples and clinical specimens were performed," the report says. "The results of the investigation determined that no single [synthetic cannabis] brand or compound explained all 16 cases."
Still, they go on to say: "Public health practitioners, poison center staff members, and clinicians should be aware of the potential for renal or other unusual toxicities in users of [synthetic cannabis] products and should ask about [synthetic cannabis] use in cases of unexplained [acute kidney injury]."
Does it stink just a bit of reefer madness? Yeah, kinda. And I wouldn't put too much stock into this being a widespread phenomenon or we'd have heard about it much sooner than this. But then again, who really knows at this point what this fake blend will do. Is it the actual synthetic cannabinoids? Probably not, at least based on what we know about real cannabinoids.
But this isn't real cannabis. It's plant fiber mixed with lab-made (or bathtub-made) research chemicals that have to be labeled "not for human consumption" to even begin to be barely legal to sell. Look, I'm all for your choice to put whatever you want into your body, and I understand the draw of spice to people that either a) can't get marijuana for some strange reason or b) get drug tested and want to still get stoned. But this stuff is horrible on principle alone and the people making it (they make it, not grow it) have no concern for the customer's well-being
The only way synthetic pot has any worth is as yet another reason to legalize real cannabis. As one of the researchers of the report told USA Today: "Synthetic cannabinoids are not safe alternatives to marijuana. There are unexpected and unpredictable health problems that can occur."