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6 Terrifying Reasons You Shouldn't Smoke Synthetic Weed

Americans now have unprecedented access to weed thanks to medical marijuana and decriminalization laws that have been popping up all across this great land. It's a wonderful time to want to be high. I can't even set foot in California without someone thrusting a pack of weed-laced Animal Crackers or Jolly Ranchers or something into my eager hands.

But here's the thing, I don't live in California. I live in South Dakota. Medical marijuana? We barely have buildings. I have family members who just started saying "epic fail." We have a law on the books that makes it legal to ride a horse home from the bar when you're drunk. That law was passed in 2007.


Law not applicable if the horse is also drunk, like this one.

What I'm saying is it takes a while for South Dakota to catch up. So there's no medical marijuana for me. If I want to smoke, I have two options. I can track down an actual weed dealer, which would require me to have friends which, in South Dakota, would require me to be really into hunting and NASCAR and being scared of gay people. Fuck that. Alternately, I can just head to the gas station.

I'm not sure people who live in normal places where weed is readily available even realize this, but you can totally buy something kind of resembling marijuana in gas stations and convenience stores all over the damn place. It's called K2 or Spice. It sort of looks like weed, sort of smells like alfalfa and sort of gets you terrifyingly high if you aren't careful. Listen, I don't care how fucking cool you might think it is that you can now buy drugs and fountain sodas in the same place, there are some very good reasons why I wouldn't recommend smoking gas station weed.

#6. Because It's Way Too Expensive

What you see in the above picture is two jars of synthetic marijuana I purchased at a liquor store that I still don't know the name of (also pictured: half a blurry banana I didn't crop out because this is a comedy site). They are 1 gram each. Total cost? $40. That's $20 for less than a dimebag, people. When you're talking 100 percent markup, eventually crack just starts to make more sense from an economic standpoint.

Also, sorry if high prices aren't terrifying enough for you, moneybags. Rest easy, there will be stuff for those of you who are thriving in this economy as well. I'm just saying, this shit is pricey.

#5. Because It Absolutely Is Not "Like Weed"

The obscure chemical compound that blazed the path that leads to full-on adults like myself casually strolling into a beat-to-shit liquor store and saying, "I'll have one Zombie Matter, please" all while keeping a straight face was developed by a Clemson University chemist named John Huffman. He was conducting research on cannabinoids for the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse. The compound he came up with was called JWH-018, because JWH are Huffman's initials and he's clearly an egotistical prick.

You know what else he is? A buzzkill. Check out this quote: "These compounds were not meant for human consumption. Their effects in humans have not been studied and they could very well have toxic effects. They absolutely should not be used as recreational drugs."

Those sure as hell don't sound like Bob Marley lyrics, do they? Maybe that's a standard disclaimer for synthetic drugs developed by actual scientists as opposed to under-stimulated college freshman in cramped dorm rooms, but still, I've never seen it stamped on a sack of real weed like it is on the pretend stuff.


Classic. Just like scientists advised dad not to smoke in the '50s.

Since JWH-018 started making the rounds, reports have been popping up left and right about the health risks associated with synthetic marijuana. Like the three teens in Texas who showed up at a Dallas emergency room with heart attack symptoms, for example.

If teenage heart attacks don't rattle your cage, there's also the mother of two in Indiana who just straight up died.

Before you hit the comments to call that dead mom an asshole for tarnishing the otherwise harmless name of fake weed, read this. Trust, the guy who wrote that is pretty much making the same argument that you want to and he sounds scientific as fuck doing it. You probably won't. He eventually comes to the extremely long-winded conclusion that the mother in Indiana probably got a "bad batch" of K2 and, as a result, it killed her. Fantastic. Now show me the story about a mother of two who got her hands on a "bad batch" of actual marijuana and fucking died. The fact that a "bad batch" can even exist is really all there is to know about why synthetic marijuana and actual marijuana are not like each other at all. Eventually, JWH-018 was banned along with its chemical brother JWH-073. Strangely, that's when things got even more bizarre.

#4. Because Anyone Can Make It, Apparently

Chemical compounds that mimic THC work exactly like heroin dealers on The Wire, apparently. Take one off the streets and there's another one waiting to step in as an immediate replacement. When JWH-018 was officially outlawed in 2009, the Internet wasted no time in filling the void. This site, for example, had "second generation K2" available for sale before the ban even took effect (they also sent me free samples once, because I'm a "journalist"). Back when it was just JWH-018 that the feds had to contend with, you could at least be somewhat sure what you were smoking.

These days, the only thing resembling an ingredients list on a package of fake weed is a promise that it "contains no illegal substances." That's like looking at the nutrition info at Taco Bell and finding that it just says "no big rats." Great news, but not really enough information to base a decision on. But somehow, the fake weed of today still pretty much works as well as it did during the heyday of JWH and his brethren. So what is in the gas station weed you can still buy these days? I honestly don't know, but Googling "K2 and nail polish remover" provides plenty of results. That can't possibly be a good sign. Who knows what kind of Wild West style free-for-all you're inhaling at this point? Maybe outlawing JWH-018 was intended to make synthetic weed harder to get, but it didn't. You can buy the shit for cheap on eBay, even. The only difference now is that you really have no way of knowing what you're smoking. It's not JWH-018, and it sure as hell isn't actual marijuana. But whatever, you'll probably be fine.

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