Stop Calling It ‘Synthetic Marijuana’

Over the summer, a new breed of untested chemical drugs hit the streets in major cities across the U.S. with a highly misleading name, adding to the potential harm these drugs can do. Called “synthetic marijuana” or “synthetic pot” by the media, these chemicals have absolutely nothing to with the relatively harmless THC found in real marijuana. A better name would be “demon dust” as it shares much more in common with “angel dust,” the PCP derivative infamously used to lace marijuana and tobacco.

These new chemicals got the name because they affect the same sensors in the brain that THC affects. The scientific name is “synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists,” and they were invented in the lab for research purposes, initially by professor John W. Huffman for use with HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis and chemotherapy. But these particular compounds have never been tested on humans. “It bothers me that people are so stupid as to use this stuff,” he is quoted as saying.

Given the general knowledge that no one has ever died from an overdose of real marijuana, the continued use of the name “synthetic marijuana” is a powerful and potentially deadly misnomer. How many users actually believe it is synthesized THC and therefore as safe as the real thing? They smoke too much and die — rather than fall asleep or eat a bag of chips.

The bad name is also damaging the reputation of the real thing. Marijuana has made great strides in becoming legal in the U.S., effectively decreasing the number of criminals, lowering crime, and offering a safe, mellow, legal alternative to hard drugs and alcohol, the most abused drug in America and the cause of more domestic and street violence than any other drug.

The District of Columbia legalized marijuana for recreational use by anyone over the age of 21 in February, yet there is no legal way to acquire it in the city. That defeats its purpose, since the law, as it is, continues to create criminals out of everyday citizens and very likely inadvertently pushes more people to try the dangerous drugs that the media erroneously calls “synthetic marijuana.”

The media needs to stop referring to these killer chemical compounds as “synthetic marijuana,” and the District needs to continue thumbing its nose at the Feds and get legal pot on the street.


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