Synthetic cannabis is a problem for everyone, affecting those who are for and against cannabis legalization. While people who oppose legal cannabis are concerned with people’s health and with what remains unknown about cannabis, proponents of legal cannabis claim that these programs can curb the use of synthetic cannabis.
A new data review supports these claims, finding that states with legal marijuana programs had fewer instances of synthetic cannabis use.
The findings were published in the journal Clinical Toxicology, which analyzed data from the National Poison Data System and discovered over 7,600 exposures to synthetic cannabis through the years 2016 to 2019. Researchers say that about 65% of users required medical attendance and recorded 61 deaths. Most importantly, state level medical cannabis programs were responsible for decreasing the use of synthetic cannabis over time.
Synthetic cannabis are man-made drugs with high toxicity levels, designed to produce the high of cannabis without the medicinal benefits. It has been linked with mental and physical damage and even the death of some users.
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Researchers who conducted the study divided the data into three categories: permissive states, medical states, or restrictive states. States that experienced the most significant drop were permissive ones, with medical states following closely behind.
In an accompanying statement, the study’s authors said that these findings support what proponents of legal cannabis have been saying all along — having an option for legal cannabis put limitations on the black market and can result in healthier options for people.
“Based on both past research and this current study, it’s evident that users who have a choice to use a less toxic product would potentially do so,” said Tracy Klein, co-author of the study.
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Synthetic cannabis is illegal in all states and is commonly known as Ak-47, K2, Spice, Scoobie Snacks, Mr. Nice Guy, and more alternate names. The drug produces a similar high to that of cannabis and is undetected in most standard drug tests, which is likely why there’s a market for it.