How Legalizing Marijuana Might Stave Off ‘Spice’ Epidemics

BY JOEL WARNER

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The first time Stewart Martin tried knockoff weed he was 15 and on probation for marijuana possession. Martin and his friends would buy the stuff legally from local head shops and bodegas in Virginia, smoking brands like “Space Cadet,” “Scooby Snacks,” and “Bizarro”.

“You never knew whether the results were going to be calm and mild or whether you were going to throw up or fight people or run into traffic,” said Martin, who’s now 21. It was worse when Martin was sent to prison for a different drug charge—a place where, according to him, “It was Spice that ruled all.”

The cheap and easy-to-hide man-made drugs, commonly known as Spice or K2, are synthetic cannabinoids, a group of active chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. In countries where they haven’t been outlawed, brands of synthetic cannabinoids* are marketed as having effects that are similar to that of natural cannabis, only we know that’s not the case. Smoking the blends led prisoners to freak out, attack guards, even one time chew on electrical wires, Martin explained.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, the only reason folks would have anything to do with it was because they couldn’t smoke regular marijuana while they were on probation,” Martin said.

 

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