Synthetic Marijuana Poses Risks to Teenage Users

Caroline Foley, Staff Writer

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It’s no secret that most high school-aged students will have an encounter with drugs at some point during their four years, but alarming usage trends in one type of drug are cause for concern.

Known as synthetic marijuana, these drugs are often marketed as natural and safe. However, they have unpredictable, and in some cases, life-threatening effects, according to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Synthetic pot is has become increasingly popular among teenagers because it is cheap and readily available. Spice and K2 were common brands in the past, but the drug is now marketed under hundreds of different brand names.

Because synthetic marijuana is so easy to acquire and increasingly present among teens, the CDC looked into the effects of usage in teens. In a recent study, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that teens who use synthetic pot are at a heightened risk for violent behavior, risky sex and abuse of other drugs.

“The findings indicate that students who report using synthetic marijuana are possibly on a very concerning health trajectory, which is particularly serious given that synthetic marijuana use is relatively common among adolescents,” said lead researcher Heather Clayton, a health scientist at the CDC.

For the study, Clayton and her colleagues collected data on almost 16,000 high school students. The information was collected in 2015.

The participants were asked about their use of marijuana and synthetic pot. They were also asked about other drug use, violent behavior, mental health and sexual behavior.

According to CBS, the study found that teens who used synthetic pot were more prone to being injured or to engage in violent behaviors than those who used only marijuana.

These teens were also more likely to have been the victims of sexual or physical dating violence. Teens who tried synthetic pot had increased risk of being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property, the findings also showed.

Students who used synthetic pot also were more likely to have started using marijuana very early in life, before the age of 13, compared with students who had used only marijuana, CBS reports.

It should be noted that synthetic pot is illegal. It’s listed as a schedule 1 drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; however, dealers try to skirt the law by continually tinkering with the formula and labeling the products as “not fit for human consumption.”

Teens are notorious thrill seekers and risk takers, but the consumption of a mixture of harmful chemicals for a good time is not worth the potential social and health risks.

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