The homeless in the nation are proving to be particularly susceptible to a cheap version of synthetic cannabis. Users are left aimless and glassy-eyed, sometimes not aware of their surroundings following its use. Almost 300 homeless individuals became ill in St. Louis in November because of using the artificial weed that professionals believe is very dangerous and highly unpredictable compared to the real thing. Other outbreaks that happened in Los Angeles, New York City and Texas produced such worrying trends. It was very obvious for observers to see reactions where the users were incoherent, violent and highly exposed to danger. In most cases, the homeless became an easy target for the synthetic marijuana dealers. For one, the substance is cheap and users can get it for about $1 or $2 per joint. Additionally, this synthetic weed is not easily detectable in a drug test and is usually a quick escape from a difficult reality. The situation was very bad in St. Louis in November 2016 to a point where the region’s biggest provider of homeless care requested individuals to stop providing handouts to the homeless. The service providers were concerned that people would use the money to buy the substance.
A number of homeless individuals have been found with odd behaviors along the streets in St. Louis. There was a lot of desperation and a sense of hopelessness amongst the homeless. They were ready to sell out anything for a dollar only to afford this synthetic drug. Synthetic cannabis has existed since the late 2000s and has been packed under such names as K2, Mr. Happy and Darkness. The Drug Enforcement Administration says that it is normally a mixture of spices and herbs sprayed with a synthetic compound that is chemically the same as THC. Synthetic marijuana has typically been produced in China and sold in such places as head shops. However, it is also available in the streets and online as well. State lawmakers have banned the use of synthetic marijuana due to its chemical composition. All the same, they have tweaked the formula sufficiently that it escapes the law provisions. Currently in St. Louis, only a single charge has been filed where a homeless man was charged with the sale of synthetic weed to others along the streets. If you look at some of the difficult scenarios surrounding these folks, you will see why they fall prey to the dealers providing this cheap solution to them regardless of their condition.
The medical hazards associated with the use of synthetic weed are very real and can range up to 100 times more than the actual weed. These sentiments were shared by Dr. Anthony Scalzo from the toxicology for the St. Louis University School of Medicine. The users usually encounter rapid heartbeat, anxiety, high blood pressure and hallucinations. Studies published in 2015 in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that there were 20 deaths reported to have been as a result of synthetic weed use between August 2011 and April 2015. According to Scalzo, survivors of synthetic weed end up suffering from brain damage and/or kidney failure. Up to now, it is not certain how the human body will respond to the next use of chemical substances. The search for cheap marijuana, especially among the poor and the homeless has been prompted by the increasing regulation by the relevant authorities. However, that is not an excuse. With the new laws allowing the use of recreational marijuana in California, first-timers are also coming in. In other places such as Texas, almost 150 homeless individuals have had an overdose on synthetic weed. A number of serious health complications and deaths have been associated with this substance too.