Synthetic Marijuana Use Up Among Teenagers
December 5, 2012

Teen Use Of Synthetic Marijuana On The Rise

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

A new government report recently revealed that, in 2010, there were over 11,400 cases in U.S emergency rooms due to the adverse health effects of using synthetic marijuana.

According to Health Day, the DAWN Report by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) discusses the growing use of synthetic marijuana and the problems related to it. Specifically, over 11 percent of high school seniors in 2011 reported that they had used some synthetic marijuana related product. Even with the high number, it had less damage than authentic marijuana that sent 461,028 to the ER.

"It's not an epidemic," Rear Admiral Peter Delany, director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality at SAMHSA, told Health Day reporter Alan Mozes. "But it's a growing problem. And people need to be thinking about it, and how we're going to deal with it."

As well, the Office of National Drug Control Policy under the Executive Office of the President reported that synthetic marijuana products are generally sold in legal retail outlets. To cover their intended purpose and to bypass the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they are listed as “herbal incense” and described as “not for human consumption.” They are mostly made up of plant material with substances (synthetic cannabinoids) that are thought to be similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active ingredient in marijuana.

The report also noted the growing use among U.S. young adults and teens, who purchase the synthetic marijuana from local stores or online. In particular, individuals ages 12 to 17 made up one-third of the emergency room visits while individuals ages 18 to 24 made up another 35 percent. Of the patients who had to visit the hospital due to synthetic marijuana use, 78 percent were male, compared to 66 percent of males who were treated in emergency rooms for issues related to authentic marijuana use. Few patients (less than one-quarter) need to have a follow-up visit after the initial treatment.

According to CBS News, the 2011 Monitoring Study found that marijuana was the number one drug among 36.4 percent of high school seniors and use of synthetic marijuana has increased within the last few years. Various state and public health departments have issued statements regarding the negative health problems due to use of synthetic cannabinoids. Adverse symptoms include agitation, anxiety, hallucinations, nausea, paranoia, fast heartbeat (otherwise known as tachycardia), and uptick in blood pressure, tremors, seizures, and vomiting.

According to USA Today, various states have banned the substances and the Drug Enforcement Administration created an emergency ban. More so, medical professionals believe that people should be more aware of the dangers of the drug.

“I think parents and communities need to become more informed about this drug," continued Delany in the Health Day article. "They should be aware that you don't know what you're buying when you buy it. You don't know the potency and the chemical compound. And they should also know that young people who use it are ending up in the ER, due to high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, agitation and sometimes seizures. So you can't say this is a safe drug. Especially if you decide to mix it with other chemicals."

To learn more about this issue, there are various resources and websites that address the topic of synthetic marijuana.