Spice is a common name for a class of synthetic drugs known as "synthetic cannabinoids" which were originally created to mimic the body's reaction to THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana. Spice, however, is not just "fake marijuana". Spice provides a high that is distinct from marijuana and is uniquely addictive and dangerous.

History and Facts

Synthetic cannabinoids were originally developed by research scientists to study the effects of THC on brain receptors. According to John W. Huffman, a former Clemson University professor who developed some of the early synthetic cannabinoids for lab use, "These things are dangerous — anybody who uses them is playing Russian roulette. They have profound psychological effects. We never intended them for human consumption."1

While the drugs were originally created to study the effects of THC on organisms, they are not structurally similar.1 Producers frequently change the chemicals in Spice to attempt to evade legal bans.2 This means that even if a user buys a drug in a similar package, they may be consuming a different drug from day to day. Using Spice is conducting an experiment on your body.3

These drugs are commonly available in small, brightly colored packages. They are frequently marketed as herbal incense, as the drugs are sprayed onto a green leafy substance and then smoked.2 Some packages include labels, "Not for human consumption" or "100% organic herbs".2,4 Other common names for these drugs are:

  • K2
  • 7H
  • Scooby Snax
  • iBlown
  • Krazy Monkey
  • Diablo
  • Hydra
  • Cloud 9
  • Extreme

Spice is currently illegal to possess, use or distribute in the state of Indiana. Additionally Indiana has "lookalike" laws which ban drugs which are created to look like other drugs.

Symptoms and Warning Signs

Since 2011 the American Association of Poison Control Centers reports over 15,000 calls related to Spice exposure. Poison control centers have recieved over 1,000 calls during the first five months of 2014.5 Reported side effects include:

  • Nausea and vomiting5
  • Chest pain3
  • Increased heart rate5
  • Kidney damage6
  • Severe agitation and anxiety5
  • Agression7
  • Hallucinations and psychotic episodes5
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions5
  • Seizures and tremors5
  • Death8

Spice is addictive. Medical professionals have observed cases of dependence and withdrawal when individuals stop using the substance.9


A 16 year old Fort Wayne, IN teen was found dead by his mother in a retention pond. The coroner ruled his death an accidental drowning. According to the teen's mother, she later discovered her son had been smoking "Spice" at a friend's house when he took off running from the home. He was never again seen alive.10

A 19 year old Anderson University athlete collapsed during a practice and died several days later. According to the coroner, the collapse was triggered by JHW-018, a synthetic cannabinoid, which was found in the athlete's system after toxicology tests. The athlete died of drug toxicity and organ failure.8

A man moving with his family from Montana to Texas was killed after another vehicle hit the trailer he was towing. The 28 year old Michigan man who hit the trailer had smoked "Scooby Snax" before the crash and a blood test showed the presence of XLR-11, a synthetic cannabinoid.11,12

A Montana man was charged with murder after breaking into a home, killing the homeowner and injuring the homeowner's wife. According to the defendant, during the two weeks prior to the home invasion he had smoked Spice "almost constantly".13

Recovery and Help

If you are concerned about the warning signs of synthetic drug addiction in the life of someone you know or love, there is help. The resourses page of our website has links to more information about Spice as well as contact information for facilities in Elkhart County that can assist individuals in reclaiming their lives from the influence of addiction.



1 http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/28/nation/la-na-killer-weed-20110928

2 http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/spice-synthetic-marijuana

3 http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/spice-if-you-use-it-youre-experimenting-yourself

4 http://www.southtexashealthsystem.com/health-information/health-news-online-fall-2013/the-dangers-of-synthetic-marijuana

5 http://www.aapcc.org/alerts/synthetic-marijuana/

6 http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6206a1.htm

 7 http://www.livescience.com/19140-synthetic-marijuana-unusual-side-effects.html

8 http://www.wyff4.com/Coroner-Synthetic-Pot-Killed-College-Athlete/6133626#!4iWR3

9 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2719097/

10 http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20120724/LOCAL07/307249982

11 http://trib.com/news/local/casper/michigan-man-sentenced-for-fatal-wyoming-crash/article_fae32cb8-eea2-59e5-a093-1497c83f2ca0.html

12 http://trib.com/news/local/casper/judge-rules-on-evidence-in-natrona-county-vehicular-homicide-trial/article_fc5c8a82-c4bc-554f-88ba-45cee06aec3d.html

13 http://www.valleyjournal.net/article/3502/Dixon-murder-among-many-linked-to-Spice