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Synthetic Marijuana May Cause Kidney Damage: Study

Update Date: Feb 15, 2013 01:07 AM EST
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Synthetic marijuana has been implicated in acute kidney damage, according to a new report by the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Synthetic marijuana, also sold under the "Spice" and "K2," has been linked to 16 cases of unexplained kidney failure. It's designer drug that imitates the effects of pot.

Study authors pointed out that its low price of about $20 a gram makes it appealing. It is sold under a variety of names including K2 and Spice. Usually made from a blend of different herbs, it is often sprayed with synthetic cannabinoid compounds.

"We knew that spice was dangerous. It's not a safe alternative to marijuana," said report author Dr. Michael D. Schwartz of the National Center for Environmental Health's Office of Environmental Health Emergencies. "As newer compounds come out in spice products, there is the risk of unpredictable toxicities."

All patients were hospitalized, and five needed dialysis treatments. All of them showed signs of recovery in three days.

"Synthetic cannabinoids are not safe alternatives to marijuana. There are unexpected and unpredictable health problems that can occur," Schwartz added.

"The availability of the synthetic cannabinoid products, coupled with how rapidly the chemicals present in the various products change, really creates a recipe for a public health disaster."

Recently, a 17-year-old girl ended up in the intensive care unit after allegedly smoking the synthetic weed that was packaged as "potpourri" she and friends bought at a gas station.

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