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Drugs & Health Blog

“Spice” – Not as Fun as it Sounds

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.

Image courtesy of Coolidge Youth Coalition

Sara Bellum

Spice—also known as K2, Fake Marijuana, Skunk, and other names—is a synthetic (or man-made) substance made from shredded dried plant materials and chemicals.  Spice appears to stimulate the same brain receptors—molecules that recognize specific chemicals and transmit messages into cells—as marijuana does and produces a similar “high.”

Like marijuana, Spice is usually abused by smoking, but it can be prepared as a drink.

Because Spice is marketed as being “natural,” some people may think it’s safe to use.  But the ingredients used to make Spice can vary, and no one’s watching to see what people producing Spice are using—meaning the results could have dangerous effects on your body and brain.  Some mixtures even contain harmful metal residues.

Nothing Nice

Spice is illegal in the United States and in most European countries.  The U.S. Naval Academy recently expelled seven midshipmen for using it.

Spice products are labeled “not fit for human consumption” and are illegal in the United States and most European countries. Its side effects, like the ingredients, often vary, but emergency rooms report seeing people with rapid heart rates, vomiting, agitation, and hallucinations.

Using Spice can lead to abuse and even addiction as the body builds up tolerance to the drug’s effects over time and craves a higher dose to achieve the same effect.

So, SBB’s recommendation?  Get your highs the natural way: exercise, friends, music, whatever you like to do—without altering your brain’s chemistry!

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


“Get your highs the natural way: exercise, friends, music, whatever you like to do—without altering your brain’s chemistry!”
That’s right kid’s we don’t want you drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco either.
Side effects of alcohol include nausea, vomiting, unconsciousness, liver and heart damage, brain damage, lethargy, loss of inhibitions and death.

Altering your brain chemistry is dangerous, don’t do it.

It is far better to relax often and enhance your bodies own healing and rush system. We have ebnough energy to feel as good as we want [commercial link removed, per guidelines]

Very helpful, thanks! :)
[commercial link removed, per guidelines]

very interesting this is helpful stuff

this is amazin

i thin this is interresting and dont do it people out there its already bad enough in the world

drugs suck thanks for help

Drugs are awful. NEVER DO THEM! Not that i have, but what ive learned. They screw up your whole life. Why would you screw up your life just to fell a little bit better?! I mean seriously, its stupid! Thats my personal opinion! Good luck to everyone:D

Omg foreal this stuff is terrible
the thing its not just a little better. thats like watching your favorite tv show. getting high u actually feel a good feelin inyour head. if youve never been high heres an example of the type of sensation of actually physically feeling it not just being in your head. like if you get tickled. now no drugs high actually feels like tickling but the way actually feel it and its so intense it causes you to laugh beyond your own control. see were im goin with this now?

"So, SBB’s recommendation? Get your highs the natural way:"
alright. Natural. soooooo marijuana.

@daef Ha! Well, that’s really not what we had in mind, since drugs, whether or not they’re derived from plants (e.g., cocaine) are still artificial ways of getting your dose of “happy.”

Spice is definitely synthetic in nature. It's cause for lung cancer is much higher than other drugs.
[commercial link removed, per guidelines]

You dont know what your talking legal in the US

The chemicals that give the marijuana like high in spice, were made Illegal this year.
Cannabicyclohexanol, and CP-47 497 C8 Homologue, are just two examples

If it's illegal in the US how can the smoke shops be selling it?

@LilyDi You bring up two important points. First, “Spice” is a term used to describe many different substances marketed under many different names. Because of the variations, “spice” itself is not illegal. However, several compounds that were (and maybe still are) in some “Spice” are currently illegal. This includes CP-47,497 C8 and cannabicyclohexanol. (As of March 1, 2011, these compounds have been temporarily placed in Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act.) To your other point, while the label may list ingredients, the amounts vary greatly from product to product, and the label doesn’t always list all of the ingredients. It may include CP-47,497 C8 and cannabicyclohexanol, or any number of other dangerous ingredients. Unless you have the substance tested by a lab, there is no way to know what is actually in the “Spice.” Good for you for reading the labels! You might also note that many containers are labeled “not for human consumption.”

Cannabicyclohexanol, and CP-47 497 C8: Speaking on these ingredients funny how all the "Spice" sold around where I live the label is clearly marked that those ingredients are not in there...

Drugs are bad, mmk?

Ok soo smoking any kind of posh is sooo stupid if yu wana get high smoke marijuana it won't kill yu er give yu heart attacks yu never hear doctor reports like yu do for k2 posh ect. If yu wana relax an enjoy marijuana is natural an not has intense as k2 posh ect. I kno because felt like I was goin to die when I smoked it an I wud never do it again I'll stick to the natural they shud banned any type of posh k2 in Ohio because stores still sell it an I dnt think thats cool at all they jua need to get rid of itt period !!!!!

look i have smoked proble way over a pound of this stuff it is the dumbest drug ever im dumb for doing it. it messes every thing up i can barely remember any thing from yesterday i have a hard time thinking if i could go back i would have never touched it a have so many pains in my chest head akes all the time and feels like some is sqeezing my heart really hard sending a pain all the way down my left arm im telling you the best thing you could ever do is stay away from it i wish i woulda now im stuck like this forever if i even have much more time in my life left my name is david im 16 and its no joke plz make the smart choice if not i promise you will wish that you would have you can ask me ? [information deleted, per guidelines]
I feel you bruh :(
look i have smoked proble way over a pound of this stuff it is the dumbest drug ever im dumb for doing it. it messes every thing up i can barely remember any thing from yesterday i have a hard time thinking if i could go back i would have never touched it a have so many pains in my chest head akes all the time and feels like some is sqeezing my heart really hard sending a pain all the way down my left arm im telling you the best thing you could ever do is stay away from it i wish i woulda now im stuck like this forever if i even have much more time in my life left my name is david im 16 and its no joke plz make the smart choice if not i promise you will wish that you would have you can ask me ? [Information deleted, per guidelines]
Hey David, my name is JamAAl and I have had a similar effects and it happened to me on September 5 , 2011 and I still feel crazy. But we gotta stay positive. I just turned 24 but would you like to talk? I always wanted to talk to someone that it happened to . Maybe we can help make it go away since we are going through the same thing. [deleted, per guidelines]
Its like i want to talk to someone who has gone threw the same thing just like me but the suicide helpline is never any help and no one here has gone threw the same experience i went threw under it. Its bad its really really bad but i didnt listen not to my boyfriend not to my brother mom no one i need to talk to someone who understands.

Hi Francheska, sorry you are going through this. If you want to find a treatment or group therapy program in your area, you may be able to find one using the search tools at or by calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

I smoked a lot as well the last time I smoked it I smoked 1.5 grams and i smacked to the floor my head has permanent swelling and I have all the pains you do as well.
Thats how i felt i told myself that i was never going to do it again smh....... i lied

OK on this it says and I quote "Spice products are labeled “not fit for human consumption” and are illegal in the United States and most European countries.” If this is being said then why is this herb or spice (no matter what the name) being sold in shops still!!!! REALLY... GET THIS [expletive deleted, per guidelines] OUT OF STORES!!!! There is stuff being sold called 7H 4:20 at one of my local tobacco shops which kids in my area have come in contact with. This stuff causes black-outs, time lose, memory lose, panic attacks, hallucinations, and many more affects. I ASK AGAIN WHY CAN THIS STUFF BE LEGALLY SOLD IN STORES, GAS STATIONS, INTERNET, ETC.!!!!! I am a very concerned mother and no matter what you want to call this stuff it is causing an increase in concern and questions being raised on who is profiting from these sales??? I am against drugs but if you want to debate I have one for you "If they are selling this stuff in shops and the packet says legal in all 50 states then why not legalize the real stuff??" The reason I am saying this is because this chemically enhanced stuff that is being sold in shops is worse for our kids then the real natural grow stuff that has been growing on our planet (DID ANYONE THINK OF THAT). I am not condoning that marijuana gets legalized by all means but this is a very good question to ask if you think about that. I have read many different articles about this "SPICE" stuff and I even looked at the background of the chemicals that are used and reports say that some of these chemicals used are worse than THC that is found in marijuana. One article states this: "The chemical compounds typically include HU-210, HU-211, JWH-018, and JWH-073 (but there are many other chemical compounds) commonly purchased in head shops, tobacco shops, various retail outlets, and over the Internet. It is often marketed as incense or “fake weed.” Purchasing over the Internet can be dangerous because it is not usually known where the products come from or what amount of chemical is on the organic material. DOES THAT LOOK LIKE THIS STUFF IS ILLEGAL???? Oh I take that back one or two particular packages or packaging is illegal.. How much more research and or evidence is need to know that this stuff is very bad and is affecting our kids (weather you want to admit it or even if you really know if they have touched it) before these products are removed from shelves and the Internet and ban for good. You can’t just take one type off the market and make it illegal when you have many other brands and types out there that are doing the same thing if not worse – what just because they don’t put the real names of the chemicals on the packets, or cover up what chemicals are really in that particular package!!! BAN ALL “SPICE”, “POTPOURRI”, “GANJA” “FAKE WEED”, “WACKY WEED”, “BLISS”, “BLACK MAMBA”, “BOMBAY BLUE”, “7H”, OR WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT, IT’S THE SAME ALL AROUND. How much more are we going to allow these manufacturers of these products to lie and cover up what are really in these products. How many more kids, or even adults will it take to get these products illegalized, what will it take major mental damaged or even physical damaged and what type of impaired matters(killing themselves or others)? WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR THE Office of National Drug Control Policy, the component of the Executive Office of the President (ONDCP) TO PUT A BAN ON THESE PRODUCTS AND MAKE SURE THAT THEY ARE ALL ILLEGALIZED? Oh I know, maybe for one of their kids or loved ones to die from it, then maybe all of these legal “Spice” products would be illegal and not just a specific kind! Get serious and really think about this: who is profiting from these sales because it’s not just the producers of the product or the stores who's selling it!!!!

“Spice” is a serious problem which the DEA and Congress are trying to deal with. It is a difficult to control due to the many different types, the wide variety of ingredients, and the many names it is sold as. On Thursday, December 8, the U.S. House of Representatives passed The Synthetic Drug Control Act which, if it becomes law, would ban synthetic drugs such as “bath salts,” “spice” and “K2.”

You realize when things like this happen companies always find a loop hole to sell things legally. They already made it illegal companies are finding ways around it.

ok let me clear some things up... one spice is legal in the united states.
second i have smoked spice many times before and i cannot stress how underestimated and dangerous this drug is. i have tripped hard enough off of this drug to the point i literally thought i was going to die. will i ever smoke it again i really cant say but for anyone out there that does smoke this or is thinking about starting dont try it trust me on this its powerful and i mean its like zeus and mike tyson had a love child and now the kid is roid raging on your brain.

my friend is hooked on this spice, she wakes up in middle of night craving this [expletive deleted, per guidelines]. i tried it once it laid me on floor, my heart was beating so fast, i could not function. anything man made...NOT GOOD!!! BEER, CIGS, SPICE ETC. Another way for our youth to get high....really sad! ive heard young people say ,,"but i can smoke this and still pass drug test"!!

I have smoked marijuana for 43 yrs and never had any ill effects from it,and my wife has smoked it for yrs,most of my family has.And now since it is illeagal ,and you have to pass a drug test,we turned to the fake Marijauna..We too have had these symptoms. I still don't understand why the government won't legalize marijauna. Just like in the days of prohibition,people were dying from bad alcohol. At least if they legalize it,they can regulate it, and people would'nt be dying trying to smuggle it out of Mexico, oh yea,think of the taxes from it. Not to mention our kids dying from fake drugs. What I think it is, the money they confiscate when they bust drug dealers,and the resale value is very high,since they got it free. Just think, no more kids dying in the alley ways, hiding trying to buy a weed!!

But we're gonna keep booze ans smokes which we already know for sure kills you.Who cares about this [expletive deleted, per guidelines]. dumb

The effects of AM-2201 also appear to differ from natural cannabis and the first generation synthetic cannabinoids, both to start and as tolerance builds. Initially the effects are quite similar, although doses for AM-2201 are approximately a third of JWH-018. This has resulted in many reports of self-reported “seasoned” synthetic cannabinoid users having anxiety reactions as a result of apparent overdose due to increased sensitivity to inaccurate measurement.

DO NOT SMOKE SPICE! I can not stress this enough. I had quit doing drugs completely and went to Hawaii and a friend got me to try it. At first it was cool but after one day of smoking a good amount of it, it threw me into what I want to call a really bad panic attack. It felt like I was trying to black out but I kept fighting it. I thought I was dying or having a heart attack and my friend started puking. Ever since then I have been paranoid as hell I have had panic attacks a few times after this, I get head aces, and my mental state is still not the same. I'm paranoid all the time now about my health and well being. I've become a huge hypochondriac if I get a head ace i think it's a tumor or something crazy. DO NOT SMOKE IT! If you think your kids are doing it search their rooms. It's very dangerous and unsafe.

It's easy to know if you have a tumor is it a head ache or head pain huge difference

Ok everybody, I've been seeing some comments where people say smoke marijuana instead of spice. I say DON'T SMOKE AT ALL YOU DING DONGS! Smoking, drinking and drugs in general are sooooo not good for you. Yes, you'll get a high for a while, and it may feel good (I don't know personally), but after a while, your body will be wanting it just to feel normal, not to get a high. The reason is because after the drug stops having any effect, then you'll feel worse than you ever have before. It's NOT cool or fun.

Something really needs to be done about this stuff!! It's a shame that we have to watch our loves ones being destroyed from this deadly drug... I have seen my brother loos his mind. He has crashed up his car, launched out in the streets, fighting people, becoming very aggressive and not realizing what he has done after his high has come down. We all need to come together and protest this crap off teh market. If this stuff they call K-2, Spice, or watever the devil's death wish is illegal in the U.S. then these folks selling it needs to be charged for the crime of our love ones. It's all about the money for them, they could care less about any of us loosing a mother, brother, sister, father, son or daughter. Let's stop this deadly drug before it take all our family memebers out of this world. God is good and prayer does help chang things. " No weapon formed against us shall prosper"......Let's make a change!!!!!!

posh can kill you so dont even try it one time


Confidential to @crisis: Thank you for sharing your heart-wrenching story vividly describing the terrible toll that spice is taking on your brother – and your entire family. Due to the intimate details and length of your comment, we chose not to post it on this blog. Having a family member in crisis can be overwhelming, and it appears that you are approaching your breaking point. Know that there is help available both for your brother and for you. Please contact the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) immediately. In addition, you can visit or call 1-800-662-HELP to find treatment facilities near you. Our hearts go out to you, your brother, and your entire family. Stay strong and accept help. You can’t handle such adversity alone.

this world is already messed up as it is especally people and no matter what one says about "not even once" people still do it so whats the point

Don't do spice I'm literally crying right now the drug [expletive deleted, per guidelines] me over right now.... One hit and I was gone things kept repeating itself like my life would fast forward but then explode then repeat over and over...Im only 16 and I thought I was dying it lasted for 2 hours.... But felt like days I thought I went I lost it. Brain wanted to exploded like swells nonstop so I'm begging don't try it all....

Omg im crying thinking i was the only one

not matter how many times you say NOT EVEN ONCE teenagers are still gonna try it but whats the point of saying if there not ganna listen

I have smoked marijuana habitually for years in order to calm my anxiety and wind down at the end of the day. I have never had any ill effects from it so when I heard there was a legal form, I wanted to check it out. I smoked it a few different times depending on the brand, I would have different effects. A couple times I felt very happy and giddy at first but it did not take long for me to feel like I was going to be sick. Almost always my head begins to pound as if my heart it beating in my brain and my heart races and palpitates irregurlarly. I have a heart problem and feel that it may irritate that. More than a couple times I have excused myself to go lay down and sleep it off after vomiting only to feel like I have no control over my legs. My joints in my knees and spine feel like they are swelling to the point of busting and hurt so intensely that it is painful to walk. I can almost always seen my veins jumping in my knees after I smoke any kind of spice. I don't know if it could be a hallucination because once after I smoked spice I hallucinated that my wrists both broke and I couldn't pick up my hands. The last time I smoked it I had repeating thoughts for 2 hours. Literally every thought would repeat 7 to 10 times before I could stop myself long enough to say "get it together" to myself about 10 times before it would start repeating in my head... "you are not okay. you are dying from poisoning." I felt like I was dying a long torturious death and it was never going to end. 2 hours felt like a lifetime and every bad thing I have ever known continued racing through my mind to the point I considered killing myself to get away from my thoughts and my feeling of extreme panic. When I was able to move to the bed to lie down, every part my body was in excruciating pain and I thought I had twisted both my knees to the point of snapping my knee caps off. I felt paralyzed for about half an hour and all I could say was, "please keep the baby away from me. I'm not okay. I'm not in control." It was one of the scariest experiences of my life as I felt that my body was completely taken over.
I have seen my boyfriend and his friends vomit from taking 2 to 4 hits of this stuff on several different occasions. They will sometimes black out and sit for 30 or so minutes not saying a single word. When they come back to reality they say that they were "so scared" and never want to do it again but go back to it the same day! Over the past year I have watched 4 close friends become addicted to the point that they will drive 2 hours away just to prevent going without it for one day. When they are on spice they seem to have no concept of time or rationality. Last night my boyfriend went crazy and punched a hole through his wall after taking 2 hits this stuff. I tried to reach our baby to get her out of the house because he was in a rage. He punched me in the eye and then slammed me into the wall 3 times before literally throwing me on the ground. He called the police to himself and by the time they got there he had come down and could not remember why he had done any of it!! I am scared to ever leave my baby with him again knowing she will be surrounded by habitual users of this drug. Spice is EVIL!!! It is nothing like pot. Pot doesn't make you have hallucinations, rapid repeating thoughts and delusions that you are dying. Most importantly, it doesn't make you want to hurt yourself and others! These are the side effects I have seen after only a few hits, what kind of state of mind could 10 hits lead to? The chemicals in it mimic the effects of LSD and Meth! Why is this stuff still legal?? It has to be taken off the market before an entire generation of addicts is bred and I assure you all, that is exactly what will happen because this stuff is INSANELY ADDICTIVE and EXTREMELY DANGEROUS!! What is even more concerning is the fact that is has the ability to permanently alter your brain because the key compenents sprayed on spice have been shown to actually melt your brain! How is it that gas stations are able to sell a baggie of "mr.smiley" portraying a smily face in shades implyed to be having sex with a school girl, containing chemicals that have never been tested on humans or regulated and have been linked to numerous deaths? How is it that they keep banning these chemicals only to have manufactors tweek the chemicals by one molecule, put a different name on the baggy and slid it back under the radar? I have seen this happen 3 times this year alone. The short term effects are definitely scary enough-this issue has to be addressed before we find out what the long term effects consist of!!

@bb33 Thank you for sharing your story – it shows the incredibly destructive effects of the chemicals in Spice. It is exactly because the manufacturers continue to alter the chemicals and names that allows them to slide under the radar. I know it’s easier said than done – but insist that your boyfriend get help. If he continues to use and be violent, you and your baby need to leave immediately. Your baby’s safety comes first. You should talk to someone as well. If you aren’t sure who to talk to, you can start by calling 1-800-273-TALK.

When I hear someone say, "Marijuana is safe because it's natural; it's of the earth!" one thing I think about is all the poisonous natural plants and vegetation that are out there in nature. Remember the poisonous berries in "The Hunger Games"? Just because something is "of the earth" doesn't mean it's safe. Food for thought...(pun intended!)