Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2/Spice) Unpredictable Danger

This infographic shows that synthetic cannabinoids, like K2 or Spice, are not natural drugs and can lead to dangerous health effects.


Text Description of Infographic

Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2/Spice) Unpredictable Danger

First Figure: K2/Spice is NOT marijuana

It’s often called synthetic marijuana or fake weed because some of its chemicals are like those in marijuana. The effects can be unpredictable and in some cases, severe or even life threatening.

Shredded, dried plant material + man-made chemicals ≠ a “natural” drug.

Second Figure: You never know what you’re getting with synthetic cannabinoids.

177 different synthetic cannabinoids were reported in 2014.

The amount and type of chemicals in each batch varies.

Manufacturers are constantly changing chemicals to dodge laws.

Third Figure: Health effects of K2/Spice are unpredictable

These drugs act on many different brain cell receptors, including the receptors that bind to THC (found in marijuana). They produce unpredictable effects that can be dangerous.

They can produce nausea and vomiting, rapid heart rate, suicidal thoughts, violent behavior, paranoia, and hallucination.

Fourth Figure: Synthetic cannabinoid use can be harmful to your health.

In 2016, there were 2,695 calls to poison control centers for harmful exposure from these drugs.

28,531 ER visits were linked to synthetic cannabinoids in 2011. 30 percent of these visits involved females and 70 percent involved males.

78 percent of these ER visits were among adolescents and young adults ages 12-29.

The Poison Control Hotline is 1-800-222-1222.


  1. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2015.
  2. The American Association of Poison Control Centers, 2016.
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2014.

This publication is available for your use and may be reproduced in its entirety without permission from NIDA. Citation of the source is appreciated, using the following language: Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.