- Approximately 17% of undergraduate and postgraduate health-related students admit to trying artificial marijuana at least once, per a study conducted by the University of Cincinnati.
- Among the reasons cited are curiosity (19.2% of respondents), desire to experience the sensation of being high (17.4%), enjoyment of feeling euphoric (10.6%), and peer pressure (3.8% and 4%).
- Users of artificial marijuana can experience side effects including anxiety, accelerated heartbeat, paranoia, and nausea.
- Females generally begin using synthetic marijuana at a younger age than males: around 17.8 years to 18.4 years. Use typically begins in the transition from senior high school to first-year college.
- Synthetic marijuana is made with chemicals meant to replicate the effects of THC, the chemical in the cannabis plant responsible for creating the sensation of being high.
What drives the intrigue of college students towards artificial marijuana? As per a recent questionnaire, the primary reason appears to be nothing more than simple curiosity.
In the transcript of the findings, an analysis of over 330 undergraduate and postgraduate students from diverse health-related fields at a state university was conducted. The results exhibited 17% admitted to trying artificial marijuana at least once, while 3% indicated their usage was more recent. The exploration was managed by researchers at the University of Cincinnati.
Factors Spurring Interest in Synthetic Marijuana
The temptation towards artificial marijuana was triggered by a range of reasons for the students. These included: an innate sense of curiosity, accounting for 19.2% of the respondents; the desire to experience the sensation of being high, 17.4%; the enjoyment associated with feeling euphoric, 10.6%; a sense of peer pressure and fitting in, 3.8% and 4% respectively.
The artificial variant of marijuana is often colloquially referred to as K2, fake weed, herbal incense, plant food, Spice, or synthetic THC.
Notwithstanding the reasons for their consumption, students also reported experiencing undesirable effects from using these products. These included an accelerated heartbeat, anxieties, paranoia, nausea, and recurring headaches. These findings have been shared exhaustively in the Journal of Drug Education.
Age and Synthetic Marijuana Experimentation
The survey found that female students were usually introduced to synthetic marijuana at a younger average age than their male counterparts — 17.8 years versus 18.4 years. Freshman and sophomores who disclosed having sampled the substance started around the age of 16.5, whilst juniors, seniors, and graduate students initiated usage always under the age of 19.
The researchers concluded, “Our study indicates the transition period between senior year high school to first-year college as the most likely time for commencing usage of THC. It is suggestive of a potential need to address middle to high school students with awareness programs concerning the ill effects of THC to preclude regular use.”
THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical entity identified in the cannabis or marijuana plant responsible for inducing a high. Artificial marijuana, on the other hand, is made with chemicals meant to replicate the effects of THC.
The students’ main sources of procuring synthetic marijuana are diverse and comprised of head shops, friends, tobacco stores, hemp shops, online sources, gas stations, and convenience stores.
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse provides further insights and details on synthetic marijuana.