What are the variations between artificial marijuana and CBD?

A Biloxi Councilman’s kratom and CBD stores were raided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency last week, where agents say they found synthetic cannabis products mislabled as CBD.

Robert Deming owns Candy Shop stores in Mississippi and North Carolina. The DEA is expected to host a press conference early next week about the raid.

Labeling synthetic cannabis as CBD is like labeling whiskey as apple juice. The products may by some (unlikely) coincidence look alike, but the dosage, uses, side effects and legality of use are completely different.

What is synthetic cannabis?

Synthetic cannabis, also known as spice, K2, fake weed and synthetic marijuana, is a man-made, mind-altering chemical with serious side effects.

Synthetic cannabis is part of a group of drugs called new psychoactive substances (NPS). “NPS are unregulated mind-altering substances that have become newly available on the market and are intended to produce the same effects as illegal drugs,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Some of these substances may have been around for years but have reentered the market in altered chemical forms, or due to renewed popularity.”

Products sold as synthetic marijuana are actually shredded plant material doused with synthetic chemicals in inconsistent doses — even when the packaging is the same.

Because the chemicals are doused or sprayed on, the potency of each serving can also vary. The use of plant material gives manufacturers an excuse to claim the products are natural.

They are marketed as legal alternatives to marijuana and are often labeled “not for human consumption,” according to the NIDA.

Synthetic cannabis does a poor job of mimicking its namesake. The chemicals can be mind altering, but do not look, taste or smell like marijuana.

Its side effects are also different. Spice can be toxic and deadly, causing rapid heart rates, hallucinations, vomiting, confusion and agitation.

“Though synthetic cannabinoids are chemical relatives to substances in marijuana, they are not actually found in plant-based marijuana,” according to the Drug Policy Alliance. “The chemical and pharmacological properties of synthetic cannabinoids are largely unknown outside of the laboratory.”

What is CBD?

Marijuana contains more than 100 compounds, aka cannabinoids. CBD (or cannabidiol) and THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol) are two of the most common compounds found in hemp and marijuana.

CBD does not cause a high and is generally safe to use. But the compound can cause irritability, diarrhea, dry mouth, low blood pressure, changes in appetite, drowsiness and liver damage. CBD can also interfere with other drugs and prescriptions you take.

CBD is sold in the form of juices, creams, oils, vape pens, candies and dog treats. The compound can treat chronic pain, anxiety, inflammation and insomnia.

“One study showed that CBD may relieve pain by affecting receptors of the endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate pain, mood, and memory, in addition to many other physiological and cognitive functions,” said Katie Rosenblum of Cedars-Sinai.

Because CBD is often marketed as a supplement, it is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The USDA has approved only one CBD product, “a prescription drug that treats seizures associated with Lennox Gastaut syndrome (LGS), Dravet syndrome (DS), or tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) in people one year of age and older.”

THC provides the high, or mind-altering effects in marijuana. It can have serious side effects like addiction, psychosis, altered senses, altered sense of time, mood swings, impaired movement, delusions, impaired memory and hallucinations, according to the NIDA.

This story was initially revealed February 3, 2023, 10:30 AM.

What are the variations between artificial marijuana and CBD?