Government researchers have found that synthetic marijuana can be linked to acute kidney injury (AKI).
Between March and December 2012, 16 people in six states who smoked synthetic marijuana products such as “K2” or “Spice” were hospitalized with kidney problems. All recovered, but five needed dialysis. All but one of the patients were male, and all but one experienced nausea and vomiting. Twelve of the patients, who ranged in age from 15 to 33, reported abdominal and back pain.
Report author Dr. Michael D. Schwartz said, “We knew that spice was dangerous. It’s not a safe alternative to marijuana. As newer compounds come out in spice products, there is the risk of unpredictable toxicities.”
Dr. Gregory Collins, head of the Cleveland Clinic’s Alcohol and Drug Recovery Center, said:
“It’s unusual for young people to have unexplained kidney failure. We haven’t seen that before with these substances, but this wouldn’t surprise me. These are dangerous compounds that are made often in China and imported into the U.S.”
Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it isn’t known what caused the kidney damage in these patients. These cases were the first reports of kidney damage being linked to synthetic marijuana use.
Synthetic marijuana has also been linked to stroke. Last December, a 16-year-old from Cypress, Texas nearly died after smoking synthetic pot. The teenager bought the “spice” at a local gas station and began experiencing migraines shortly after smoking the potpourri of herbs. She then began hallucinating and became violent. Her parents eventually took her to the hospital where she was put in a medically induced coma. Her condition worsened, and her feeding and breathing tubes were removed. However, she made a surprise recovery the next day and was transferred to a rehab facility.
While synthetic marijuana has its risks, regular marijuana can also increase the risk of stroke in young adults. In stroke sufferers between the ages of 18 and 55, the patients were more than twice as likely to have marijuana in their systems.