Smoking synthetic marijuana sold under names such as “K2” and “Spice”, may not be a safe substitute to natural marijuana, but may lead to dangerous side-effects, including seizures, psychosis, dependence and death, researchers have warned.

The synthetic cannabinoids (SCBs) are man-made mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked (herbal incense) or sold as liquids to be vaporised and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices (liquid incense) and thus cause adverse health effects.

“The public sees anything with the marijuana label as potentially safe, but these synthetic compounds are not marijuana… you never know what they are and they are not safe,” said Paul L. Prather, a pharmacologist at the University of Arkansas.

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