As if we needed more fuel added to our collective fire, the fight for prohibition’s end can look towards the growing trend for synthetic highs as its latest inspiration. Ever devious in attempts to maximize profitability at every turn, numerous companies have begun to flood the market with all manner of manmade potions, powders and plant substitutes that allege to mimic the effects of everything from cocaine to cannabis. Unfortunately, some people want to get high without any consideration for the substance that gets them there: whilst the purists amongst us would accept nothing less than the finest all-natural, pure-bio, organic wonder bud grown from a mother of pure genetic heritage, others don’t give a damn if it’s laced with sand to make it weigh more or even something that’s not even weed at all.
Figures suggest that the increase in these substances is spiraling out of control due to legal loopholes that allow companies to market products as everything from plant food to bath salts. The United Nations are growing increasingly concerned as more and more people are admitted to hospital following their experiments with items they buy off the internet. For those who are producing and shipping these chemical compounds and manufactured herbal remedies, there is little consideration for the end user and their ability to ship to a global market with little fear of reprisal has to be an incredibly attractive offer. It’s crazy to think that you can’t legally buy a planet which grows of its own accord yet you can ship psychoactive substances to practically anywhere in the world if you put a fancy name and a misleading label on it. Could we get away with selling ground bud if we put a label on it, suggesting that it should be poured into a bowl and used as a room odorizing pot-pourri? Might be worth a shot if this trend continues.
Perhaps the best known cannabis substitute is ‘Spice’, which is one of the most recognized due to mass media attention following claims of a multitude of negative health effects. Most users reported an initial feeling that was similar to a heady couch-lock stone, but this was quickly followed by heavy paranoia and feelings of sickness. Terrifyingly, some users reported that the experience left them with horrendous bouts of semi-psychosis up to 2 weeks later. Fun. A quick scour of the internet throws up a dazzling array of these ‘legal highs’ and it is astoundingly easy to pay for them with a few mouse clicks and get them shipped to your door, often with free postage and packaging. Our constantly connected, quick access, fiber optic society gives us access to things which may do far more harm than good, yet we are often far less likely to do anything resembling in-depth research when a visit to Wikipedia or Youtube will (probably) apparently offer up all the important information in a far easier-to-digest package. Dig beneath the surface though and you’ll find countless negative experiences, but very few stalwart supporters who genuinely believe that these brands offer anything even close to resembling the product it claims to replicate or act as a substitute for.
The most ridiculous facts surrounding this type of product (under whatever ‘classy’ name they stick on the packet) come from the fact that people buy it under the genuine belief that it ‘must be safer than actual cannabis because it’s legal’ when, in reality, they are far more dangerous. Each time a particular substance is recognized, tested, labeled and subsequently banned, the manufacturers simply adjust the chemical balance and put a new sticker on the packet. It’s like a twisted game of cat and mouse that sees us chasing the bait as it gets wrapped in a whole range of shiny plastic bags and pulled around in front of us as the money cascades out of our pockets. When you stop to consider the amount of tests and checks that our food, drink, clothing, computers or phones (and practically anything else you can think of) have to go through to ensure that they are safe before they can be sold to us, it is difficult to understand why people are foolish enough to put their faith in a company who blatantly work around the safety measures just to give you the opportunity to buy from them; think they’re doing it out of the goodness of their hearts because they just really like to know that you can get high ‘legally’? Think again.
What we have here is a clear cut case of the negative effects of extended prohibition: when alcohol was outlawed it just drove the black market into a frenzy and people from all walks of life became willing customers of the unlicensed proprietors. It’s a proven fact that we don’t like being told what we can and can’t do (just ask any teenager who has a disagreement with their parents) and with each option that becomes available to make breaking the law that little bit less naughty, more people will feel inclined to try it for themselves. I’m not going to tell you what you can and can’t do, but it is worth doing some research into anything that you allow into your system (that’s why we love strain guides so much) before jumping in at the deep end.
By the time this goes to print there will probably be more fake/designer drugs on the market than I could begin to name, each carrying their own promises and excessive health risks. It’s not easy if you live somewhere that doesn’t allow you to partake in the real deal but, in all honesty I think I would rather either risk persecution for self-medicating or go without than waste my time and money on an heir-apparent. Beyond the psychoactive properties (which are questionable to say the least) these products offer nothing in the way of medicinal gains for anyone who finds cannabis to be a suitable treatment for their condition. As it stands, these products have managed to escape illegal status for so long because they cannot be classed as medicinal or pharmaceutical by any stretch of the imagination and therefore fall outside of legal parameters in many jurisdictions. Get aware, stay natural and keep it green.
Originally published in Weed World Magazine Issue 112