The smoking weed effects on its users are reported to be considerably harmless and nowhere near lethal as claimed by some sections. The side effects of using ‘synthetic marijuana’, however, is much more serious and damaging as evident from the experience of Emily Bauer, a seventeen-year-old from Cypress, Texas.
Emily, like many other teenagers in our society today, wanted to get high smoking a little bit of weed. But her decision to go for fake weed, often labeled and sold in the market as ‘Spice’ or ‘K2’, proved wrong for her. Last December, while on a trip with her friends, Emily bought the synthetic weed from a local gas station. The synthetic weed started showing its true colours within less than 15 minutes of consumption. The uneasiness started with a migraine and proceeded on to violent seizures and hallucinations. Once taken to the hospital, Emily was diagnosed with partial brain damage, limb paralysis and blindness.
“We met with Neurology team who showed us Emily’s brain images. They told us that all white areas on images were dead. It looked to us at least 70 per cent of the images were white”, her mother, Tonya Bauer, said. Contradictory to the initial belief of her doctors, Emily has managed to reach a stage where she can identify the members of her family and talk to them. The doctors however ascertain that in Emily’s case, a complete recovery is out of question.
The potentially lethal variations of synthetic weed, often disguised as incense or potpourri, is easily available in the market. In spite of ongoing battles to make such products illegal, they continue to easily find their way in to the hands of the younger generation of the country. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that the fake weed usually consists of an herbal mixture and chemicals that mimic the experience of smoking real marijuana.
Efforts to create the awareness on the smoking weed effects of synthetic marijuana have not seen much success. The products are usually advertised as a safe alternative to original weed and are cheaply available in stores. Many states have taken initiative and have outlawed these synthetic products. The manufacturers, however, have been successful in bringing them back to market with slight variations in their chemical composition.
While the more serious side effects of using marijuana substitutes are yet to be discovered, families of teens like Emily are trying their best to spread awareness on the subject through nonprofit organizations like the Synthetic Awareness for Emily (SAFE).