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Synthetic Cannabinoids’ Effects on the Body

Synthetic cannabinoids act on the same brain cell receptors as THC, the mind-altering ingredient in cannabis.

So far, there have been few scientific studies of the effects of synthetic cannabinoids on the human brain, but researchers do know that some of them bind more strongly than marijuana to the cell receptors affected by THC, and can produce much stronger effects. The resulting health effects can be unpredictable and dangerous.

Because the chemical composition of many synthetic cannabinoid products is unknown and may change from batch to batch, these products are likely to contain substances that cause dramatically different effects than the user might expect.

Users report some effects similar to those of marijuana:

  • Elevated mood
  • Relaxation
  • Altered perception
  • Symptoms of psychosis (delusional or disordered thinking detached from reality)
  • Psychotic effects, including:
    • Extreme anxiety
    • Confusion
    • Paranoia
    • Hallucinations

Users who have been taken to emergency rooms have shown severe effects, including:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Violent behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts

Overdosing on Synthetic Cannabinoids

An overdose occurs when a person uses too much of a drug and has a dangerous reaction that results in serious, harmful symptoms or death. Use of synthetic cannabinoids can cause:

  • Toxic reactions
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Reduced blood supply to the heart
  • Kidney damage
  • Seizures

Deaths can also occur when dangerous synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, are added to the packaged mixture without the user knowing it.