8 July 2019 Blog Post: Synthetic Cannabinoids

As an adult practitioner, it is sometimes difficult to keep up with trends in recreational drug use. An interesting article was published in Pediatrics highlighting the risks of synthetic cannabinoids in teenagers, a substance with which I have little clinical experience. Chemical analogues of THC, called “synthetic cannabinoids” may have been available in Europe as early as 2004, and were first reported in the United States in December 2008.
 
Synthetic cannabinoids are chemicals similar to those found in the marijuana plant that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices.
 
According to this recently published study, synthetic cannabinoids are significantly more likely than traditional cannabis to lead to seizures and coma. Specifically, coma or occurred more often among patients exposed to synthetic cannabinoids versus cannabis (29% vs. 11%), as did seizures (19% vs. 6%).
 
I remind my adult patients that the potency of even naturally occurring (non-synthetic) cannabis has increased around the world in recent decades. This increased potency may have contributed to increased rates of cannabis-related adverse effects. However, unlike synthetic cannabinoids, serious cannabis intoxication is rare in adolescents and adults.

𝗦𝗶𝗴𝗻 𝗨𝗽 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗢𝘂𝗿 𝗡𝗲𝘄𝘀𝗹𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿

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