WHAT IS SPICE AND HOW IS IT TESTED?
What is it? Spice/K2 is a synthetic cannabinoid (marijuana) functionally similar to THC, the principle active component of cannabis. It is a psychoactive designer drug created by spraying natural herbs with synthetic chemicals. The DEA has recently declared specifiic elements of Spice/K2 as a controlled substance.
Street names: Sold as an herbal or botanical incense under the names listed and more: K2, Spice, Spice Gold, Genie, Dragon’s Slice, Black Magic, Spice Silver, Spice Diamond, Yucatan Fire, Mojo, Sense, Chill X, Smoke, Algerian Blend, Spice 99, Pot-pourri, Buzz, Voodoo, Pulse, Hush, Mystery, Earthquake, Black Mamba, Stinger, Tropical Synergy.
How is it used? Spice is smoked and often labeled as herbal incense. It appears as an herbal mixture, often including vegetable and plant parts, sprayed with a synthetic cannaboid oil.
At 11.3 percent, the annual prevalence of synthetic marijuana use is:
41 percent greater than Vicodin (8.1 percent) 4 times greater than inhalants (3.2 percent) 4 times greater than cocaine (2.7 percent) 8 times greater than meth (1.4 percent)
How is it tested? Spice does not produce positive results in drug tests for cannabis. However, metabolites can be detected in urine when using a Spice-specific testing panel.
Metabolism and Detection in Urine: Little is known about the metabolism of the multiple synthetics available. Because of the variability batch-to-batch, due to dosing irregularities and the variable synthetics used, predicting a half life and detection window is very difficult. Further, the required “effective” dose for spice is much lower than THC resulting in lower excreted metabolite levels accompanied by higher psychoactive potency. To date, a predicted detection window of 72 hours is representative of the metabolism
of these drugs.
Physiological Effects: Elevated heart rate, vomiting, elevated blood pressure, slurred speech, seizures, reddening of the eyes. Acute kidney failure has been reported and multiple reports of admissions to the ICU following the use of Spice have been documented.
Psychological Effects: Severe agitation/aggression, paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety, confusion, impaired sense of time, short term memory defects.
Toxicity: Inter-batch variability due to varying synthetics and doses sprayed allow for a high potential for overdose not associated with traditional THC. These drugs also have a profound affect at the receptor causing desensitization, allowing the user to build a
“tolerance” quickly, requiring higher and higher doses to feel the same effect. Additionally, the typical THC user would anticipate comparable activity to synthetic cannabinoids, therefore smoking high doses, which may lead to overdose. Finally, the synthetics have a much stronger and more effective influence on the GABA neurotransmission of the brain than THC, causing anxiety, agitation, seizures and convulsions typically seen with synthetic cannabinoid overdose.