The sale of synthetic cannabinoids falsely sold as cannabis in the UK, this fake cannabis poses a significant health risk to the general public.
Data from the latest research shows alarming evidence that consumers are buying products that they believe contain THC, but are actually made up of a number of other substances, including synthetic cannabinoids, nicotine or other drugs.
WEDINOS is a harm reduction project that analyzes samples of drugs provided by the public and other participating organizations. In February 2021, an analysis of 37 samples believed to be THC e-liquids used in vapes found that only 26% contained THC or cannabis, while 57% contained some form of synthetic cannabinoid.
Other ingredients included the addictive ingredient in tobacco nicotine, diphenhydramine, an antihistamine, and cathinone, a stimulant.
Vape cartridges are not the only cannabis substances to test positive for synthetic cannabinoids. Last month a post appeared on a popular cannabis sub-Reddit warning cannabis users that hashish containing the synthetic cannabinoid MDMB-4en-PINACA was being sold in the UK.
Not everyone is lucky with an analysis showing fake cannabis
Other consumers have not been so lucky. Last April, the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland issued a warning after several young people became ill from what they believed to be real cannabis vape cartridges containing 'spice'.
This organization's spokesperson for drugs and alcohol in Northern Ireland said:
“We've been warned about serious issues surrounding young people who think they're buying cannabis oil or THC for vaping, only to discover that it's actually 'spice'. There is no way of knowing if what has been sold to you is really what you are taking and for some they found out too late and ended up in hospital after suffering the serious consequences of vaping spices.”
A similar warning was issued in Lincolnshire in April when a schoolboy fell ill after eating easurable which he thought contained cannabis that actually contained synthetic cannabinoids.
Fake Cannabis: About SCRAs
Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs), commonly referred to simply as 'spice', are lab-developed substances designed to mimic the effects of the psychoactive compounds in cannabis.
SCRAs found their way onto the UK market as legal highs before being banned by the Psychoactive Substances Act of 2016. Originally sold as a legal alternative to cannabis, the effects of SCRAs are nothing like natural cannabis and can be dangerously addictive and harmful to the health.
SCRAs are often sprayed on herbal material designed to look like cannabis, but as the above reports show, they are now making their way into other cannabis products and being sold under the guise of traditional cannabis, presenting a huge potential health risk. . It is estimated that around 30% of adults in the UK have used cannabis, with around 1 in 10 using it regularly.