Synthetic Marijuana Linked to Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Synthetic Marijuana Linked to Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Mackenzie Thompson

by Mackenzie Thompson

Life Saver, AMC

posted on Jul 11, 2014, at 9:49 pm


MARIJUANA, THE THIRD MOST POPULAR RECREATIONAL DRUG in America, has been used by almost 100 million Americans. The drug gives users a different feeling depending on the person, but many experience relaxation or euphoria, sometimes accompanied by the negative effects of anxiety or paranoia. Federal law classifies marijuana as a ScheduleI drug with no medical use, and therefore illegal, but many local laws are decriminalizing its use. Despite movements to legalize marijuana gaining momentum, the drug remains addictive and has known negative health effects, especially with heavy use.

Within the past 5 years, the “synthetic weed” known as K2 or “Spice”, has emerged as a potent alternative to marijuana. Initially, K2 was developed by scientists for pain management and the effects of cannabis on the brain. Synthetic cannabinoid compounds were first developed to assist study of cannabinoid receptor pharmacology, but recently has emerged as a drug of abuse. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the active ingredient in marijuana that the 100 million Americans have desired. In East Harlem in 2013, a reporter visited a deli, counting the number of customers who purchased K2. The numbers were startling. In a 20-minute period, over 30 customers picked up the dangerous mixture of chemical compounds advertised as “legal weed”.

How does K2 effect health?

Spice users who have been taken to Poison Control Centers and hospitals report signs of rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations. It also increases blood pressure and causes myocardial ischemia, and can even lead to heart attacks or strokes. Cardiac Arrest following K2 abuse was reported earlier this year. Sudden cardiac death (SCD) usually occurs in individuals without prior history of heart disease. About 450,000 deaths occur every year in the United States alone from SCD with a significant correlation to substance abuse. Although the occurrence of SCD correlated with cocaine, methadone, and other abusive drugs is well known, K2’s recent emergence as a street drug has meant its health effects have had little scrutiny. In addition to its intrinsic effects, Spice is often tainted with unidentified toxic substances, which contribute to various adverse health effects. These symptoms are similar to taking PCP and include hallucination, coma, unconsciousness, numbness, increased respiration rates, panic attacks, and multiple heart problems such as increased rate and blood pressure.

It is obvious that drug abuse leads to cardiac problems. The potentially lethal impact that K2 has on the human heart is poorly understood. Spice was developed for research, not intended for human consumption, and has been added the list of Schedule I drugs and is now illegal nationwide. To prevent cardiac problems for yourself, friends, and family, maintain heart health by living a wholesome lifestyle, free of drug abuse.

About Mackenzie

Mackenzie is a lover of world travel, photography, design, style and Chinese cooking. She is passionate about working towards a purpose, recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Media and Marketing, and is currently residing in Manhattan.

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