Skip to Content

NorthShore’s online source for timely health and wellness news, inspiring patient stories and tips to lead a healthy life.

Healthy You

The Dangers of Synthetic Marijuana

Friday, April 27, 2018 10:00 AM

It’s a good bet that many of us had never heard of fake pot until we saw the headlines that a deadly batch circulating through Illinois was tainted with rat poison, killing four people and sickening more than 150.

Synthetic Marijuana

Laura Parise, MD, Medical Director of the Doreen E. Chapman Center at NorthShore, said synthetic marijuana has actually been sold on the streets, in convenience stores and online for years. Users assume they are getting a safe, legal high when in reality the drug is extremely addictive, dangerous and illegal in Illinois.

“The silver lining in this otherwise tragic story is that there is heightened awareness of just how dangerous it is,” Dr. Parise said. “We need to keep the conversation going because the public has already begun to wrongly think that marijuana in general is safe because some states have legalized it.”

Dr. Parise, an addiction psychiatrist, shares this important information about synthetic marijuana to help keep your family and loved ones safe:

  • Anyone with synthetic marijuana should get rid of it immediately. People who have smoked it have suffered life-threatening internal bleeding, seizures, fast heart rates and agitation.
  • It is sometimes advertised online or sold at headshops as herbal blends or potpourri.
  • It typically consists of plant material coated in chemicals, which are supposed to mimic THC, the active chemical compound in marijuana.
  • It is known mostly as K2 and Spice, but is sold by hundreds of different names around the world.
  • It is packaged like candy, in colorful small foil bags.
  • It can also be sold in liquid form and used in e-cigarettes.
  • It is illegal in Illinois

If you are interested in learning more about the path to treatment with the Chapman Center, the next steps to take are:

  1. Call the Chapman Center and speak with a member of the clinical staff who can arrange an assessment. Remember, assessment appointments do not mean that you are obligated to move forward with treatment. 
  2. Attend the assessment appointment. The Chapman Center encourages you to bring family members or friends for support. Family and friends can only attend the appointment with the individual's written consent. 
  3. Individuals will then receive individualized treatment recommendations that may include one of the programs listed above. Continuing treatment is always your choice.