Back in 1984, a scientist at Clemson University named
John W. Huffman began studying the interaction between drugs and brain receptors. He and his colleagues created 460 synthetic cannabinoid compounds that resemble THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
Why? The answer was harmless enough. The brain receptors play a role in regulating pain and inflammation in the body, and as Huffman and his team tested their cannabinoid compounds on lab animals, the results were promising—some of their compounds succeeded in reducing pain, inflammation, and certain skin cancers. In fact, one of his compounds, JWH-133 (named after Huffman), shrank brain tumors and regressed non-melanoma skin cancers in mice—a very exciting discovery for Huffman.
Then things started to go south, as Huffman had feared. He published his positive findings, but the chemical formulas, some very easy to reproduce with common substances, fell into the hands of the wrong people and the fake marijuana craze had begun.
The man-made drug, which consists of dried herbs and spices that are sprayed with the THC-like chemical compound and sold as Spice, K2, and Black Mamba to name a few, induces a high much stronger than that from THC in marijuana. On March 1, 2011, three of his compounds were classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as Schedule I controlled substances, which means it is illegal to sell, buy, or possess them.
JWH-018, one of these three compounds, can be 10 times stronger than THC. Others still are even more potent, putting the user at a higher risk for hallucinations and psychosis. As Huffman himself said, “These things are dangerous — anybody who uses them is playing Russian roulette. They have profound psychological effects. We never intended them for human consumption.”
However, due to the lack of information on the extreme mind-altering effects of these drugs and the existence of hundreds of other synthetic cannabinoids that have yet to be illegalized, usage has soared, especially among teens, and we are now reaping the repercussions. On July 17, 19-year-old Connor Eckhardt of California was declared brain-dead after taking one hit of this so-called fake weed and experiencing major swelling of the brain. And this is not the only instance. Hospitals are seeing a surge in these kinds of spice-related cases.
As experienced criminal defense lawyers in Riverside and San Bernardino, we at Greenberg, Greenberg & Kenyon, APLC foresee this increasingly popular drug ensnaring many sellers and users in a legal bind, not to mention a potentially lethal one. If you or someone you know is caught up in dealings with synthetic marijuana, know your facts. If you have been charged with marijuana possession, real or fake, or a marijuana crime, contact a California criminal law attorney today.