Your company is based in a state with legal marijuana, and recently the drug testing protocol has been altered to combat the rising positivity rates. Strict drug-free workplace and random screening policies are now in place, meaning a shift in the habits of some of your co-workers. You overhear a discussion during lunch about trying out synthetic marijuana, “because they’re not testing for that. It’s just fake weed.”
There is a lot of confusion surrounding synthetic cannabinoids. Is it pretty much the same as standard cannabis? If a state has legalized cannabis, are manufactured products legal, too? Let’s debunk some of the myths about synthetic versions of the drug.
What is Synthetic Marijuana?
Many people believe the product is like natural marijuana, but in reality, it is much more dangerous. Synthetic marijuana, commonly known as K-2 or Spice, is actually made from dried plant material and herbs that are sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids. The cannabinoids are part of a drug group called new psychoactive substances and are highly addictive – they produce similar effects to the natural THC found in marijuana but affect brain receptors much differently. According to a study conducted in 2008, synthetic cannabinoids are often found to be 100 times stronger than THC.
If some form of cannabis is legal in my state, does that mean synthetic versions are, too?
Even if marijuana is legal for recreational or medical use in your state, manufactured strains are not included in those state laws. Distribution and possession are illegal in all 50 states – synthetic marijuana was formally banned by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in 2013. It is a Class I drug and distribution is a federal crime.
Will synthetic marijuana display in a standard drug screening panel?
No – standard 5-panel tests look for the presence of THC, which is absent in synthetic products. However, testing for the chemicals used to form synthetic cannabinoids is possible. Oral fluid testing can detect synthetic marijuana up to 24 hours after use, with detection up to 30 days for urine testing.
Despite the illegality of synthetic marijuana, manufacturers are quick to create new compounds that side-step the laws. Are you thinking of adding synthetic marijuana to your drug screening panel? Contact one of our drug testing experts at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.