by Bina Pattel
Our blog on Cannabis deserves a read or re-read as Spice is synthetic cannabis.
K2 is the name for Spice in USA.
Most of us have probably heard of Spice but have no idea of what it is and what it does.
SPICE IS NOT DESIGNED FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.
It is a man-made drug that alters our natural state and creates extreme behaviour that we have not seen or felt before. In other words, we have taken this to another level.
Is it time to look at WHY anyone would want to take this intense drug?
Is it time we addressed our global drug epidemic, which is out of control?
Are we seriously considering the knock on effect of what this drug is doing?
Are we busy blaming or are we trying to find solutions, which are band-aids?
Are we ready to read what is being presented in this article and take note of the dangers of this harmfull substance?
Are we going to wake up and realise that our world is in deep trouble if some people are choosing to take this lethal drug?
Are we going to wait for more and more research to confirm what common sense is telling us right now?
Are we ever going to fund research to get to the root cause of WHY anyone chooses to take drugs in the first place, to alter their natural state of being?
What is Spice?
Spice is not a single drug but a range of laboratory-made chemicals that mimic the effects of THC – tetrahydrocannabinol which is the main psychoactive component of cannabis. Research suggests that Spice and other forms of synthetic cannabis is capable of producing much more intense and prolonged effects at much lower doses than natural cannabis.
This is because cannabis in its natural form reacts partially with the body and synthetic cannabis reacts far more fully.
To understand the biology behind the intense reaction to Spice, we need to look at the parts of the body’s central nervous system that react to cannabis – the cannabinoid receptors and the chemical part of the drug that reacts with the body – the “agonist”.
While THC is a “partial agonist” (it only partially reacts with cannabinoid receptors), synthetic cannabis is often a “full agonist”. In this way, the more adverse effects observed with synthetic cannabis use stem from its ability to completely saturate and activate all of the body’s cannabinoid receptors at a lower dose.
Although the consequences of long-term regular use are not well defined, experts believe that synthetic cannabis has the potential to develop, or cause a relapse of mental illness. (1)
Long-term side effects range from nausea and tooth loss to heart and lung problems. (2)
WHY would anyone want to make a drug in a laboratory that mimics the effects of cannabis?
WHO on earth comes up with stuff that is more potent and harmfull to the mind and body?
Do we need experts to tell us or can we work it out, that synthetic cannabis is going to cause some form of mental illness because of the very nature of what it is?
For those who are choosing this drug, are they even bothered about the long-term side effects?
Where does Spice come from?
In late 1980’s scientists discovered that THC in cannabis affects humans by stimulating those receptors in the brain and nervous system that process sensation, appetite, mood and memory.
Once this had been established, chemists researching new medicines were able to synthesise compounds specifically to target these receptors and went on to create them in their hundreds.
Just as drugs such as MDMA (ecstasy) had before these, gradually seeped out of the lab and onto the street. (3)
First synthetic cannabinoid identified on the recreational drug market. (1)
Spice was the first well-known brand name. (3)
Synthetic cannabinoids laced on plant material were first reported in the U.S. when a shipment of “Spice” was seized and analysed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Ohio. (4)
Scientific and law enforcement communities started studying what was actually contained in synthetic cannabis mixtures.
Analysis showed the product had been sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids. It was not a simple mixture of harmless herbs such as canavalia, maritime, leonotis, zornia and others.
These are NOT the “All Natural” ingredients listed on packaging and sellers’ websites.
These chemicals are similar to natural cannabinoid found in marijuana –
THC – tetrahydracannabinol but they affect our brain receptors differently.
Spice and K2 may contain one of many synthetic cannabinoids such as
Phenazapam prescription drug has also been found in some products.
Synthetic cannabinoids fit into the same receptors as THC latches onto in the brain, so they can have an effect similar to THC.
Note – some synthetic cannabinoids are 100 X stronger than THC and many operate on other brain receptors too. (5)
JWH-018 an aminoalkylindole (AAIs) originally developed by a researcher in a US university was sold under the brand name Spice.
AAIs are the most common sub-family of synthetic cannabinoids and are produced in kilogram quantities through quick and simple chemical reactions using legal substances. (1)
Synthetic cannabinoids are included in a group of drugs called “new psychoactive substances” (NPS). (6)
Under narcotics legislation, JWH-018 is now a controlled substance in many countries.
The prevalence of next-generation synthetic cannabinoids, known as Spice or Mamba continue to be the largest group of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) in common usage. (1)
The chemistry to make these things is very simple and very old.
You only have three easily available starting materials and only two steps.
In a few days, you could make 25g, which could be enough to make havoc.
These substances are produced on a large scale by chemical companies based in China then shipped as bulk powders to Europe by air or sea.
Once in Europe, the synthetic cannabinoids are mixed with plant material using solvents like acetone or methanol to dissolve the powders.
The combination is then dried, packaged and sold as either incense or smoking mixtures. (1)
By the end of 2015, 14 different sub-families of cannabinoid agonists have been identified, indicating that there are potentially hundreds of these types of substances circulating via the Internet and often across international borders. (1)
51 new synthetic cannabinoids were identified in 2012, compared to just 2 in 2009. (4)
The wide range of cannabinoids available have for years made such drugs very difficult for legislators to tackle.
Manufactures simply tweaked the formula, to produce substances with a chemical make-up slightly altered from the most recently banned version. (3)
Although it is usually sold as a herb resembling marijuana, this is a marketing gimmick. (3)
Would it be true to say we are very good at creating the supply if we know there is a demand?
Are the chemical companies even considering what they are producing and where it will end up?
Are those receiving the bulk shipments in Europe deliberately creating a product that they know has a mass demand?
Do manufacturers think they are clever because they can tweak formulas and stay one step ahead of the current legislation?
WHY is there not a public outcry to ban ALL ranges of cannabinoids?
Is this simply about profit before people?
Or is there more here that needs to be addressed?
Would it be true to say that those who have a direct hand in this process are not living a life of integrity?
Would it be true to say that all those involved are not choosing to live with the word RESPONSIBILITY?
What are Synthetic Cannabinoids?
Mind altering chemicals that are –
- Inhaled as cigarettes
- Liquid incense
- Liquids to be vaporised
- Shredded plant material so they can be smoked – herbal incense
These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are related to chemicals found in the marijuana plant.
Due to the similarity, synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes misleadingly called “fake weed” and they are often marketed as “safe” legal alternatives to that drug.
In fact, they may affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana; their actual effects can be unpredictable and in some cases, severe or even life-threatening. (6)
Manufacturers sell these herbal incense products in colourful foil packages and sell similar liquid incense products like other e-cigarette fluids, in plastic bottles.
These products are marketed under a wide variety of specific brand names; in the past years
K2 and Spice were common.
There are now hundreds of brand names such as Joker, Black Mamba and Kronic.
For several years, synthetic cannabinoid mixtures were easy to buy in drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, gas stations and through the Internet.
The chemicals used have a high potential for abuse and no medical benefit.
Authorities in USA have made it illegal to buy, sell or possess some of these chemicals.
However, manufacturers try to sidestep these laws by changing the chemical formulas in their mixtures. (6)
Easy access and the belief that synthetic cannabinoid products are “natural” and therefore harmless have likely contributed to their use among young people.
Who on earth comes up with names like this?
Who is the Joker here inside our minds playing these games?
WHY would a name of a highly venomous snake be appealing?
WHY are we not getting clues from the names like Kronic?
WHY has this drug become easy access for so many?
What is the Intelligence1 that fools us to believe these synthetic substances are “natural”?
WHY would manufacturers try and side step our laws by changing the formula?
WHY are we not demanding answers to questions like those raised in this article?
Synthetic cannabinoids are often labelled “not for human consumption.”
Labels often claim that they can contain “natural” material taken from a variety of plants.
The only parts of these products that are natural are the dried plants materials.
Chemical tests show the active, mind altering ingredients are cannabinoid compounds made in laboratories. (6)
Standard drug tests cannot easily detect many of the chemicals used in these products. (6)
Synthetic Cannabinoids have No Commercial Uses. (7)
As a world, WHY do we accept False Advertising?
WHY does dodgy selling happen in the first place?
WHY are marketing companies willing to lie to us at any cost?
WHY are labels not telling the truth – why are they hiding?
WHY do we choose to ignore “not for human consumption”?
WHY are our drug testing methods one step behind in detecting?
Spice is NOT Legal.
It is now banned in most Western nations. (3)
Can we join the dots here and keep it simple?
Spice is an illegal substance.
There is a valid reason why it is banned.
Why are we choosing to ignore these simple facts?
Use of Spice in large quantities was first noted by the British authorities a decade ago.
2010 – the main synthetic cannabinoid – JWH-018 was made illegal.
26 May 2016 – the production, distribution, sale and supply of Spice became illegal under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. (8)
The above Act was in place in England.
However, the possession of Spice was only illegal for prisoners.
Legal Highs was a term used to describe substances that mimicked the effects of illegal drugs but had been tweaked at a molecular level to avoid previous anti-drug laws. (9)
December 2016 – UK Government classified strains of synthetic cannabinoids, which are commonly referred to as ‘Spice’ as a Class B controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (MDA). This means those found to be in possession can face up to 5 years in prison and an unlimited fine. (10)
Spice can still be bought online in Ireland. (11)
DEA Schedule/Legal Status
Schedule 1 drug (7)
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) used emergency protocols to temporarily schedule some of the substances found in synthetic cannabinoid products.
President Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act, permanently placing several different classes of psychoactive substances, including many synthetic cannabinoids, into Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) – the most restrictive classification. (12)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved three medications containing synthetically derived cannabinoids to treat severe nausea and wasting in certain circumstances.
Development programs of products that contain marijuana or their synthetic equivalents are being fast tracked by the FDA for ‘therapeutic purposes’. (7)
Each state is currently using various administration actions, prosecution strategies and regulations for product labelling and branding to either quickly ban individual substances or criminalize sales.
Most states have also enacted criminal and civil penalties and others have pending legislation for the sale of products that attempt to avoid being advertised as “synthetic drugs” by claiming they are “not for human consumption”. (12)
Synthetic Cannabinoids – second most frequently used illegal drug among high school seniors. (4)
WHY are synthetic cannabinoids so popular with high school seniors?
What on earth is going on for our Youth of today?
WHY do they need mind altering drugs at such a young age?
The Dangers of Spice
The strength of a specific brand appears to owe more to the ratio of cannabinoids to chemically inactive plant material in the mixture, rather than the variation in the chemical structure of compounds themselves.
In other words, the specific type of chemical that goes in the mixture is less important.
What is important is how much chemical there is compared to what has been put in to provide the bulk. (1)
Due to the high potency of some synthetic cannabinoids, the amount needed for each “hit” can be as little as a few tens of milligrams. To put that into perspective – size of a match head. (1)
In higher doses, they regularly produce psychotic effects – extreme anxiety, confusion, paranoia, suicidal thoughts and hallucinations along with strong physical reactions, ranging from rapid heart rate and vomiting to seizures, acute kidney failure and death by heart attack. (3)
Black Mamba Bliss Bombay Blue Fake Weed Genie Moon Rocks Skunk Smacked Yucatan Zohai (7)
Other names for Spice
Synthetic Marijuana (5)
check this link for 672 street names for Spice
The following list are not included in the above 672 street names
WHY are most of us not clued up with all of this?
WHY are there hundreds of street names for Spice?
WHY would these names appeal to anyone?
Where do these words originate from?
What is the force behind names like these?
Who is having fun and how wicked is this really?
What does Spice/K2 look like?
Dried, shredded plant material that looks like pot pourri and is sometimes sold as ‘incense’. (7)
Traditional smoked Spice/K2 looks like herbal tobacco or natural marijuana.
It is made from dried plant material and chopped up herbs in a mixture of colours including cream, red, brown and beige. (5)
Vaping the liquid form of synthetic marijuana is a fast-rising trend which is replacing smoking.
Increasing popularity of e-cigarettes, vape and hookah pens, especially in high schools and universities, is the reason behind this shift. (5)
Hello – can we just STOP.
WE HAVE AN ILLEGAL SUBSTANCE, EASILY ACCESSIBLE, WHICH IS A FAST RISING TREND ESPECIALLY IN HIGH SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES.
These are supposedly our future generation of Intelligent adults.
How Intelligent is our current form of Intelligence2 if this is happening?
Other Uses of Synthetic Cannabinoids
Users smoke the dried plant material sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids.
Some mix the sprayed plant material with marijuana.
Some users buy synthetic cannabinoid products as liquids to vaporize them in e-cigarettes.
Others brew it as a tea. (6)
Synthetic cannabinoids said to affect the brain much more powerfully and unpredictably than cannabis. (3)
How Synthetic Cannabinoids Affect the Brain
Synthetic cannabinoids act on the same brain cell receptors as
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the mind-altering ingredient in marijuana.
So far, there have been few scientific studies of the effects of synthetic cannabinoids on the human brain but researchers do know that some of them bind more strongly than marijuana to the cell receptors affected by THC and may produce much stronger effects.
The resulting health effects can be unpredictable. (6)
The chemical composition of many synthetic cannabinoid products is unknown and may change from batch to batch. These products are likely to contain substances that cause dramatically different effects than the user might expect.
Synthetic cannabinoid users report some effects similar to those produced by marijuana:
- Altered Perception – awareness of surrounding objects and conditions
- Elevated mood
- Symptoms of Psychosis – delusional or detached thinking from reality
Psychotic effects include:
- Extreme Anxiety
- Hallucinations – sensations and images that seem real though they are not
- Paranoia – extreme and unreasonable distrust of others (6)
Spice is consistently at the top of the list for young people who abuse Internet drugs.
The active substance in Spice, is categorised as an Internet drug.
2008 – Patients showing symptoms of cannabis use, tested negative for cannabis. People then started to realise that items being sold openly and marketed as legal ‘herbal blends’ on the Internet were actually drugs.
Sellers often don’t realise how potent the substances are and how much there is in each smoking blend.
Anders Helander – Adjunct Professor at Karolinska Institutet Department of Laboratory Medicine (14)
Are we going to wait around until there are more scientific studies OR are we going to take note of what we have right now under our nose?
Do we really need to hang around for more proof when we have enough already?
Are we able to simply join the dots and read that a synthetic version of any drug is harmfull?
The fact that researchers DO KNOW that there are stronger effects on the brain is a sign, so WHY do we have this tendency to keep researching to confirm what we already know is wrong?
What kind of Intelligent species are we that keeps on searching for more evidence when it is plain, simple and clear – something is not right and we have the power to stop it?
Who really gains and who benefits from allowing this relatively new drug to continue to play havoc and bring devastation to not only the users but all those affected by their actions?
Can we admit that as a world today, we have a Mental Health epidemic and drugs like Spice are adding to the burden which is spiralling out of control?
Can we afford to sit back and wait for even more studies to keep proving that ALL drugs in any form alter our natural state of being?
Would it be wise to employ our researchers and scientists to find out WHY a human being chooses to take any drug in the first place to alter their natural state?
Would it make sense to use all the Intelligence available to us right now and keep asking questions until we get to the root cause and make this our number 1 Priority?
Spice – Hundred Times More Potent than Cannabis (14)
Is this one single statement enough for us to realise we are in serious trouble?
2014 – sharp increase in cases of poisoning when some unusually strong varieties of Spice came onto the market.
These substances were between 50 and 100 times stronger than THC, which is the equivalent of 50-100 puffs of marijuana. The result was lots of overdoses and cases of acute kidney failure, liver problems and respiratory arrest.
New varieties are coming out all the time, so it is problematic to study the consequences of any lasting damage.
That makes it difficult to say anything about long-term risks.
Anders Helander – Adjunct Professor at Karolinska Institutet Department of Laboratory Medicine
Where are we today, three years after this study confirms a sharp increase in cases of poisoning?
WHY are we ignoring the signs that Spice is lethal and our over burdened health systems are not equipped to deal with this?
WHY are new varieties coming out and can we sit and blame the suppliers?
Could it be possible that suppliers simply supply because the demand is there?
Do we need to stop and question WHY is there such a high demand for Spice?
Young people aged between 15 and 24 who have been given in-patient care for mental health disorders caused by cannabis or a combination of drugs has doubled since 2005.
Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (14)
It has previously been shown that young people who use cannabis can have permanent problems with Intelligence levels.
Studies from Australia show that those who have used cannabis have a lower IQ. It is very likely that this is also the case for synthetic cannabinoids. They do have the same biological effects and some of them are also a lot stronger.
If you misuse Spice and other Internet drugs, sooner or later you will encounter a substance or a product that is particularly dangerous; it is like playing chemical Russian roulette. (14)
Chemicals used in Spice make it extremely difficult for users to concentrate or co-ordinate their movements.
Spice is mixed randomly and stronger than cannabis.
Makers are known to dissolve the chemical in nail polish remover, then use a cement mixer to apply it to herbs.
Users often take a higher dose than they intend to. (15)
Short Term Symptoms of Use
Loss of Consciousness
Other Health Effects of Synthetic Cannabinoids
Users taken to emergency rooms have shown severe effects including:
Harmful Thoughts and/or Actions
Long Term Consequences of Use and Health Effects
Kidney Damage and Psychosis (7)
Use of these drugs is associated with a rising number of deaths. (6)
Some people experience difficulty breathing, shakes and sweats – all of which can lead to severe panic attacks.
At higher doses, balance and co-ordination can be severely affected. Users can experience a loss of feeling and numbness in their limbs, nausea, collapse and unconsciousness. (1)
Continued use of synthetic cannabinoids can cause psychotic episodes, which in extreme cases can last for weeks and may exacerbate existing mental-health illnesses in susceptible users.
Most reports of severe mental health, addiction and acts of violence as a result of regular use tend to be among prisoners and homeless people.
These groups are much more likely to report high rates of drug dependency, self-define as having addictive personalities and disclose a range of mental-health issues including “dual diagnosis” (drug dependence and at least one mental-health disorder or at least two personality or psychotic disorders) and existing offences for violence. (1)
Does this bother us, scare us or worry us in anyway?
The list of symptoms and health effects is clearly NOT stopping people from using Spice.
Should we all be asking what is going on for our Youth of today that this drug has become popular?
Are we able to read between the lines that something is going on for them that leads them to choose a drug that has serious symptoms and side effects?
Are we aware how our Internet is supporting this activity to make it easily accessible?
Are we aware of the pressures that our young adults are feeling, to resort to drugs like Spice?
Are we concerned that our Youth of today will be our adult population in years to come?
Is there a clue here WHY regular users tend to be Prisoners and Homeless people?
Are we doing something that is not working in society that fosters the use of Spice?
Is there something missing in the way our systems are operating that is causing this?
Are Synthetic Cannabinoids Addictive?
YES – synthetic cannabinoids can be addictive.
Regular users trying to quit may have the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Irritability (6)
- Extreme Tiredness
- Heavy Sweating
- Neglect of Other Interests and Duties
- Problems Thinking Clearly
- Vomiting (13)
Behaviour therapies and medications have not specifically been tested for treatment of addiction to these products. (6)
There are no FDA-approved medications to treat K2/Spice addiction. (7)
More research is needed to determine if behavioural therapies can be used to treat synthetic cannabinoid addiction.
Data not collected
Average Age of Initiation
Data not collected (7)
Is any treatment going to work in the long-term or do we need to go beyond that and just cut to the chase and get real?
Would it be of great benefit to us all if we started with honesty and admitted that we have not got a handle on this deadly drug called Spice?
Could it be possible that our scientists and researchers are not equipped to counter this drug with any form of medication?
Is it a bit like coming up with a drug to deal with another drug and its side effects?
Could it be possible that medications to treat K2/Spice is not the answer to this serious issue?
A new and deadly Spice trade.
A recently invented drug has been linked to hundreds of deaths and overdoses. (3)
Manchester police received 31 separate Spice related calls on 8 April 2017. (16)
Matthew aged 20 smoked Spice as a teenager and was homeless. He believed it was safe as it was classed as a legal high.
‘My mates were doing it so I thought I would do it. The first time, I can’t explain what it was like. It just blew my head off. I thought “never again”.
It’s such a heavy high, it’s so intense. The first high lasted about one hour but it really felt a lot longer. It’s like you are there but you can’t communicate. You’re alive in there but you can’t see it on the outside. You just feel brain-dead.
A gram wouldn’t last. I used to go to sleep smoking Spice, wake up, smoke some more and go to sleep again. I was too high to remember what was happening.’ (16)
The withdrawal symptoms when he was not smoking it were strong and he quickly became addicted. ‘You just feel so ill. I have seen people so messed up from it. It’s not the Spice that makes people violent but when they haven’t got it, that’s what makes them violent.’
Spice remains an epidemic, despite being illegal. (16)
I have done Heroin, Cocaine, Crack, Meth, you name it, I’ve done it and nothing was harder to kick than Spice.
I would sleep behind a dumpster of the only store around that sold it, just so I could wake up and not have to worry about finding a ride to get it. I stole from my family so I could supply my habit. I would lay in the basement of my parents’ house and just smoke it, all day. Not showering, cleaning, changing. Nothing.
Walter – speaking to Spice Addiction Info (16)
Rise of the zombies: Cheaper and more addictive than crack.
Spice is the synthetic drug that turns users into the ‘living dead’ in minutes and is ruining lives across Britain.
Daily MailOnline – 13th March 2017 (2)
A powerful strain of Spice has emerged that produces a terrifying zombie-like effect in those who smoke it.
Drug experts are warning of a Spice epidemic that is spreading from the North-West, driving a wave of crime and casualties that the police and emergency services are struggling to cope with. (2)
On the street – observations
10 March 2017
Dead men and women walking the streets in Manchester.
Some of them their faces wan and eyes open but filled with a terrible vacancy, stumble forward with arms out-stretched.
Others stand stock-still like shop mannequins, seemingly unconscious but upright or slumped forward as commuters scurry past with their heads down.
There were more spotted, comatose on pavements or slumped in doorways. One young man lolled on the steps twitching and gibbering to himself.
Andrew Malone – Daily MailOnline (2)
95% of young homeless in Manchester are using Spice, many of them addicted.
Spice has the physically addictive qualities of heroin and the psychologically addictive qualities of crack.
Robert Ralphs – Senior Lecturer in Criminology. Manchester Metropolitan University (2)
It has led to calls for Spice to be made a Class A drug.
Within seconds of smoking the drug, they were catatonic.
Andrew Malone – Daily MailOnline (2)
It is awful to come off it – you rattle.
I’ve tried to get off it but it’s harder than gear (heroin).
I smoke this because it’s better for me than injecting with needles – better for my health.
I’m starting to feel woozy. I can feel all my problems going away.
Carl – aged 50
The so-called Spice barons buy plant materials in bulk on the Internet and spray them with synthetic chemicals, which have potent psychoactive properties.
Some dealers mix whole batches in their baths.
According to some experts, one Spice joint is akin to smoking up to 100 cannabis joints.
So much is being produced that it is half the price it was when sold as a ‘legal high’.
At £5 a fix – a small plastic bag of Spice will produce 3 joints and leave the user comatose for ten hours.
I have seen people frothing at the mouth and passing out.
When some take it, it’s like someone has pressed pause on the TV. They freeze into one position.
In the city centre, there are people like the walking dead. You wouldn’t even know they were alive.
They don’t know where they are. I have never seen anything like this.
One man went into cardiac arrest. He was resuscitated and I saw him smoking Spice again three hours later.
Julie Boyle – Lifeshare Homeless Charity (2)
Users become addicted within three days.
Some dealers are ‘carrying’ (slang for knives and other weapons).
These are the aggressive young foot soldiers working for highly organised crime syndicates making millions from the trade. Police seem to be failing to get to grips with them.
Andrew Malone – Daily Mail (2)
How serious is this that there are highly organised crime syndicates making millions from the trade?
Where do we start and is our ‘failing’ police force not equipped to handle the grand scale of what is really going on here with the trade of Spice?
Charities are exacerbating the problem. Users know they will be fed and they can use all their money for drugs. It means charities are helping them with their addiction.
Housing associations refuse to accept Spice users because of their violent and unpredictable behaviour. (2)
13th June 2017
Spice plaguing Newcastle’s streets
Disturbing footage showing the ‘zombie-like’ effects of a super-strong version of the drug Spice – dubbed Power – has been released by police.
So here we have real life on the street stuff going on.
Is this enough anecdotal evidence to make us stop?
Is this a big fat wake up call to get us to take action?
Can we wait around while our governments ask for more research?
Do we feel overwhelmed and have no idea what can be done?
Can we STOP for one moment and put our common sense hat on here?
How on earth can we call a drug that is killing us Power?
Are we changing the meaning of a word here to suit us?
Are we mis-interpreting the true meaning of the word?
Are we using this power to numb us from what is going on?
Are our Spice users thinking this is the power they need?
Are we seriously in trouble if we think Spice has any power?
Addiction Helpline – Calls about Spice increase by 25% since Government ban
The ban has not made a blind bit of difference. More and more people are using this stuff.
The government is failing people with any kind of addiction. They have cut services left, right and centre. Since Spice use is now said to be rife in many prisons, sending addicts to jail for possession was a “joke”.
Daniel Gerrard – head of Addiction Helper
Since the ban, far harder for police to stop the sale of potentially deadly strains of Spice – instead of simply talking to head shop owners, they had to tackle criminal drug dealers.
Tony Lloyd – Crime Commissioner, Manchester (17)
Head shops – a shop that sells equipment connected with using drugs. (18)
The reality with the Psychoactive Substances Act is that it has shifted supply onto the streets.
The product was probably more consistent in the head shops. Now it is more varied, the make-up is constantly changing. That is why we see people collapsing as the drug becomes more potent.
Phil Spurgeon – City Centre Inspector, Manchester
Since the ban, Spice and other former legal highs have become easier to obtain in parts of UK.
Spice can now be ordered “like a takeaway”.
Spice user – Bradford, Yorkshire (17)
Do we need to wait for any research study to define the long-term regular use of Spice or do we join the dots and keep it simple?
Spice is a man-made drug coming from a lab somewhere and the news stories thus far are confirming the evidence and it is speaking volumes.
Effects of Legal Highs
Channel 4 Documentary – 2016
People as young as 11 smoking an odourless powder named Spice.
Paramedics referring to it like seeing ‘zombies walking the streets’.
On every shift, there are 999 calls about people taking drugs.
Emergency services increased call outs due to Spice.
Emergency Services would have Legal Highs as a Class A drug.
Often they say the ingredients are not the ingredients and some don’t have the ingredients listed.
Until I started this job, I did not realise how socially acceptable drugs were – it’s mental.
Thomas Henderson – 999 Control Centre
Marketed at young people, to make them look like sweets.
They say on them ‘not for human consumption’.
Inspector Richard Spedding
PC Karl Dicken says he is more comfortable dealing with someone on illegal drugs than legal ones due to the effects that the legal stuff has.
When they are on legal highs they just turn into monsters.
They have super human strength, they don’t feel pain…like a zombie.
He witnessed one man chewing on his own nerves and he was not feeling it.
Spice in UK Prisons
Sprayed on paper, the Spice is left to dry out, then letter posted. (11)
Mambulance – name given when an ambulance is called because people are taking Spice.
2016 – HMP Pentonville a large London prison were calling mambulances 6 – 7 times a day.
Spice is not detected in urine samples or saliva, therefore drug tests will not pick it up. This is why it is popular in prisons. (11)
There is no treatment for Spice.
The focus is on management of symptoms and harm reduction.
Spice Training, Turning Point, London – 4th August 2016
In 2016, HM Prisons Inspectorate reported that “new psychoactive substances” particularly Spice, were having “a dramatic and destabilising effect on many of our prisons”. (3)
The drugs are popular in jails because they are cheap, don’t reek like marijuana and are undetectable in traditional drug tests.
Spice is also popular among homeless drug users. (3)
I get a lot of letters from prisoners and the majority mention the problems created by drugs and in particular Spice – how it is making prisons more violent and dangerous.
Peter Clarke – Chief Inspector of Prisons
Letter from a prisoner, to Mr Clarke described how the “Spiceheads are out of control” and making life a “nightmare” for other inmates.
Mr Clarke said far tougher measures, including the scanning of all visitors and staff entering prisons were needed to stem the “huge amount” of violence caused by drugs such as Spice, as some jails had become “virtually unmanageable”. (19)
When I started working in prisons, this drug known as Spice, you have an incident a week, maybe two, very rare.
Just before I left, you have three or four a day. Regular ambulances called to deal with a Spice attack. We just couldn’t control it, it literally got out of hand.
Alan – ex Prison Officer (20)
50% of those who admitted using Spice in prison, did so daily.
Andrew Brown – Substance Misuse Policy Manager, MEAM coalition (21)
Prison sentences are not a deterrent for dealers.
Even greater riches are to be made by the Spice barons within the prison system. (2)
Spice and Black Mamba are the reason for the increasing number of violent incidents inside.
Prison dealers were making a profit of up to £1,500 per ounce on a substance that costs about £50 an ounce when bought in bulk. Everyone is on it inside.
I have seen people on all fours on the prison landing barking at the moon.
I have tried crack, heroin, acid, mescaline, crack cocaine – you name it, I’ve taken it.
This is worse than them all.
I would say to everyone – do not smoke this ever, even once or it will send you under.
Stephen McEvoy age 47 – Career Criminal, released from Strangeways Prison, Manchester, UK (2)
Spice Training Course (11)
Described as a ‘nasty drug’.
No one knows what Spice is really made up of.
Spice affects a person’s mental and physical health.
2 – 3 drags of Spice can cause psychosis.
Buzz can last 3 – 4 hours and up to 7 hours.
Taking small amounts can cause ill effects.
People using Spice on top of the substances they are using.
People choosing Spice over harder drugs like Heroin.
Withdrawal similar to Opiates.
People do die from Spice.
Spice dependency can develop after a week or two weeks.
Common for users to wake up during the night after an hour to smoke Spice.
Course participant from a hostel said they are putting in hourly checks on residents that use Spice.
Course participant from a homeless charity said Spice has the same deterioration as Crack.
Course participant said that users he works with say they wish they never came into contact with Spice.
Spice causes –
Increased heart rate that can lead to heart attack
Not being able to stand up straight
Stroke like symptoms
Violent projectile vomiting
Effects of Spice are not like Cannabis.
Course Trainer knew a man who ripped out his eye.
Another man chewing his shoes.
Trainer said – there are NO SUCCESS stories with Spice.
Even a year after no use, some users still having symptoms.
11th April 2017
‘It just kills people’: Zombie drug Spice headed for Australian streets.
It’s just a matter of time until it hits Australia, I can’t see any reason why this would be different to any other drug.
…sometimes the effects might not be reversible.
Companies in China claim they are making them for research purposes but in fact they’re manufacturing for human consumption, which is illegal.
Professor Matthew Piggott – University of Western Australia (22)
Dear Dear World
Is there enough here to tell us that SPICE/K2 is a killer drug?
Do we need to waste any more time on solutions to fix the problem?
Do we need to cut to the chase and get funding to deal with the root cause?
Do we need to talk to those at the receiving end of this deadly substance?
Do we need to hold accountable all those who profit from this drug?
Do we need to look closely at our laws and redefine the meaning of what True Law is about?
Do we need our policy makers in the future to know their subject and live what they are asking others – in other words, walk the walk and talk the talk?
Do we as a world need to UNITE and come together to stamp out Spice and ALL drugs that are deeply harming us?
How bad are things going to have to get before we take True Action?
Can we afford to sit back and wait for others or are we as individuals going to do something?
Could it be as Simple as just talking about Spice, so that more of us become aware of what is really going on?
(1) Ralphs, R., & Sutcliffe, O. (2016, September 23). What is Spice and Why is the Drug So Dangerous? The Conversation. Retrieved October 21, 2017 from
(2) Malone, A. (2017, March 13). Rise of the Zombies: Cheaper and More Addictive than Crack, Spice is the Synthetic Drug that Turns Users into the ‘Living Dead’ in Minutes and is Ruining Lives Across Britain. MailOnline. Retrieved October 21, 2017 from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4302806/Spice-synthetic-drug-turns-users-living-dead.html
(3) (2017, March 25). A New and Deadly Spice Trade. The Week. Issue 1117, p.13
(4) (n.d). Synthetic Drugs (a.k.a. K2, Spice, Bath Salts, etc.). Office of National Drug Policy Control. www.obamawhitehouse.archives.gov. Retrieved October 21, 2017 from
(5) (2017, April 8). What Is Spice/K2? The Facts on Synthetic Marijuana 2017. Spice Addiction Support. Retrieved October 21, 2017 from
(6) (2015, November). What Are Synthetic Cannabinoids? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved October 21, 2017 from
(7) (2016, November). Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. (pp. 1-22, p. 80). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Surgeon General. Washington, DC: HHS
(8) (2016, May 26). Legal Highs Ban Comes into Force Across the UK. BBC News. Retrieved October 21, 2017 from
(9) (2017, February 7). Legal Highs: What Are They and Has the Government Ban Worked? The Week. Retrieved October 26, 2017 from
(10) (2017, January 23). Changes to Drugs Legislation re: ‘Spice’. Metropolitan Police. Retrieved October 21, 2017 from
(11) (2016, August 4). Spice Training. Turning Point, London.
(12) (n.d). Are Synthetic Cannabinoids Legal? Drug Policy Alliance. Retrieved October 21, 2017 from
(13) (2015). The Truth About Synthetic Drugs. Foundation for a Drug-Free World.
(14) Wennerholm, F. (2015). Spice – A Hundred Times More Potent Than Cannabis. Karolinska Institutet. Retrieved October 23, 2017 from
(15) Waugh, R. (2017, April 5). Here’s What Smoking Spice Actually Does to Your Body – by Experts. Metro. Retrieved October 22, 2017 from
(16) Tamplin, H. (2017, April 11). Ex-Spice Addict Reveals What Taking the Drug is Like. Metro. Retrieved October 21, 2017 from
(17) (2017, April 28). Legal Highs: Calls About Spice to Addiction Helpline ‘Increased by 25%’ Since Government Ban. Independent. Retrieved October 23, 2017 from
(18) (n.d). Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved October 23, 2017 from
(19) Bentham, M. (2017, September 28). Jail Spiceheads ‘Out of Control’, Inmate Warns Chief Inspector of Prisons as He Calls for Better Security at Jails. Evening Standard. Retrieved October 24, 2017 from
(20) Ray, L.L., & Clark-Neal, D. (2017, July 10). Prison Officers ‘Assaulted on Regular Basis.’ BBC News. Retrieved October 23, 2017 from
(21) Brown, A. (2016, July). Interesting Things about Alcohol and Other Drugs. www.slideshare.net. Slide 6. Retrieved October 24, 2017 from
(22) Hussey, S. (2017, April 11). ‘It Just Kills People’: ‘Zombie’ Drug Spice Headed for Australian Streets. Yahoo7News. Retrieved October 24, 2017 from