For the past several years, synthetic marijuana has been popular with users because it did not show up on drug screen testing, but that has changed, law enforcement officials said.
Synthetic cannabis, or marijuana, is a psychoactive designer drug derived of natural herbs sprayed with synthetic chemicals that, when consumed, allegedly mimics the effects of cannabis.
It became widely known by the brand names K2 and Spice, both of which have been banned in the United States, but have been replaced by manufacturers in other countries by changing the chemical makeup to stay ahead of U.S. authorities.
Synthetic cannabis does not contain THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, but instead consists of ingredients that mimic THC.
Doctors have said synthetic cannabis can cause both short-term and long-term psychosis and enhance problems in those with a mental illness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control other side effects are hallucinations, difficulty breathing, sweating, rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation and confusion.
It also can raise blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart (myocardial ischemia), attempted suicide and in some cases death by heart attack or suicide.
Though labels on the products say not for human consumption, authorities say the products are rolled up like a cigarette and smoked in order for one to get high.
Seely said labs have to stay up with the new compounds, but added many of the “incense” products on the market do show up in the new testing.
Seely said his Tyler lab has seen many instances of someone testing negative for marijuana when it is believed they are on some type of illegal substance.
“We have had parents bring in their teens and tell us they know their kid is smoking marijuana, but the standard test shows nothing in their system. They have brought them back and had them tested specifically for the synthetic marijuana and the tests have been positive,” he said.