A survey of college students finds the most common reason for experimenting with synthetic marijuana is curiosity, HealthDay reports.
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati surveyed more than 330 undergraduate and graduate students, and found 17 percent said they used synthetic marijuana at least once. Of those students, 19.2 percent said they tried it out of curiosity. Other reasons included getting high (17.4 percent); for the "fun of feeling high" (10.6 percent); to fit in (4 percent); and peer pressure (3.8 percent).
The study found females were more likely to try synthetic marijuana at a younger age than males (17.8 years versus 18.4 years), the researchers noted in the Journal of Drug Education.
Synthetic marijuana is also known as K2 or Spice. Short-term effects of the drug include increased agitation, pale skin, seizures, vomiting, profuse sweating, uncontrolled body movements, elevated blood pressure, heart rate and palpitations.
In addition to physical signs of use, users may experience severe paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations. The long-term effects are unknown.
A recent government report found emergency room visits related to synthetic marijuana more than doubled between 2010 and 2011. Emergency rooms reported more than 28,500 visits linked to synthetic marijuana in 2011, up from 11,400 in 2010. Among teens ages 12 to 17, the number of visits linked to synthetic marijuana rose from about 3,800 to nearly 7,600 during that year. Among young adults ages 18 to 20, ER visits linked to synthetic marijuana rose from about 2,000 to more than 8,000.
The Synthetic Drug Prevention Act of 2012 specifically prohibits the sale or possession of some types of synthetic marijuana.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and nearly all states have also taken some regulatory action against these products once they have been identified. However manufacturers of these compounds continue to modify their chemical structures in an attempt to evade current laws.