The Dangerous Differences Between Synthetic and Natural Cannabinoids

Here we’re going to highlight the various differences between natural and synthetic cannabis.


By now you’re probably familiar with the news stories covering how synthetic cannabis, also called Spice, Potpourri, or K2, has caused some users to either bleed from various orifices, have seizures, and in some instances, overdose to the point of death. Here we’re going to highlight the various differences between natural and synthetic cannabis, and why the real thing is far safer for consumption.

  1. The problems may be related to unbalanced chemicals versus the natural balance of nature. Synthetic cannabinoids are man-made compounds that interact with cannabinoid receptors in our brains and bodies. As you know, a natural cannabis strain contains hundreds of different cannabinoids which naturally combine to form a strain that’s either sativa, indica, or a hybrid of the two. When we consume natural cannabis, as long as we’re not overdosing, we feel the high we’re meant to feel – the effects are euphoria, calm, or reduced pain, depending on the strain because of the various levels and balances of the natural cannabinoids present in the plant.

  2. With synthetic cannabis, balancing the cannabinoids is done in a lab, often arbitrarily so. This, as we’ve seen in the news, is a potential problem introduced by anyone trying to synthesize cannabis for profits. Besides the general problem of humans trying to outwit nature, there are no regulations specifying how to properly balance cannabinoids so that they act synergistically sound with one another. There are no safety studies required of the synthetic cannabinoids either.

  3. Generally speaking, when we intake unbalanced synthetic cannabinoids we have no idea how they’ll influence the cannabinoid receptors in our brains and bodies. Clinical studies of both real cannabis and synthetic cannabis have only scratched the surface in the past few decades – we have so much to learn about these cannabinoids and yet they’re already being sold in synthetic form, sometimes hospitalizing users.

  4. Synthetic cannabis evolves at an unnatural pace. Because regulations have steadily been changing, outlawing specific synthetic cannabinoids linked to multiple hospitalizations and severe adverse events, companies continuously alter the chemical mixture in their synthetic cannabis products to stay in business, and to try to stay legal. This could lead the onset of other serious health problems that eventually reach the media – and the cycle goes on. Unfortunately, there are over 700 synthetic cannabinoids, and outlawing one at a time isn’t going to help the epidemic much.

  5. Synthetic cannabinoids are not an exact copy of natural cannabinoids and it’s been found that this can make them between 2 to 100 times more potent than the parent cannabinoids they mimic. This is because synthetic cannabis may act as a full agonist, binding to CB1 receptors in the brain with maximum efficiency. And keep in mind, CB1 receptors are everywhere in the brain. Natural THC, on the other hand, acts as a partial CB1 agonist. Just imagine feeling up to 100 times higher than usual. That sounds scary, and I can’t imagine the amount of paranoia or anxiety that kind of potency may induce. It’s been leading to the manifestation of severe adverse events such as seizures, psychotic episodes, uncontrollable body tremors, a multitude of other horrific symptoms, and even death.

Right now, most synthetic cannabinoids remain legal, and demand for them is higher in states that have not yet legalized cannabis in its natural form. Because they don’t show up in drug tests, anyone subjected to employer drug testing is often tempted to try them.

However, we don’t recommend trying synthetic cannabis because of the many sever health risks historically associated with it. It’s best to try cannabis in its natural form, because it’s, so far, thought to be impossible to overdose on to the point of causing death. The balance of cannabinoids from a plant source are natural and it’s grown from the earth – not crafted by chemists in labs.