In the first prospective study of synthetic cannabinoids or SCs — the group of chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana — researchers have found that symptoms of depression, drinking alcohol, or using marijuana was linked to an increased risk of SC use one year later.
Synthetic cannabinoids are a large group of chemicals that are similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that produces its hallmark effects. These chemicals may be sprayed on plant-based materials that resemble cannabis and sold as “not for human consumption” potpourri or incense at stores. These chemicals can be as much as 40 to 600 times more potent than THC.
“The study, recently published in Pediatrics, was the first to assess whether marijuana use is predictive of SC use over time or vice versa,” said senior author Jeff Temple, a clinical psychologist at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. “Given that marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug by high school students in the U.S., having a better understanding of how marijuana use affects future SC use and vice versa is essential for designing effective prevention and intervention programs.”