What Are The Types of Synthetic Marijuana?

Synthetic marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug that has been pretty quietly sweeping the nation to become of the leading sources of overdoses in the past few years. As of right now, the drug stands as mostly unregulated, legal, and sold at a majority of bodegas and gas stations.

According to news articles, police reports, and hospital records, synthetic marijuana is quickly becoming the favored drug of choice for the homeless population, and for underprivileged or disadvantaged Americans because it is so cheap, so accessible and completely legal.

Where Did Synthetic Marijuana Come From?

In 1984, John W. Huffman, a Clemson University researcher started investigating synthetic alternatives to over 500 different cannabinoids on a government grant. These cannabinoids were meant to be replicas of the active ingredient that was found in marijuana. One of the researchers on the team came up with the chemical compound later called JWH -018, named after Huffman, and in a short time, the chemical started to show up on the shelves of head shops around Europe being sold as incense.

Not long after, it started to pick up steam, and people began to smoke the chemicals. Of course, people experienced negative side effects such as hallucinations, voices, and suicidal thoughts. One young man in Iowa actually committed suicide with a shotgun after smoking the drug, stating to his father beforehand that he “felt like he was in hell.”

It didn’t take long for the DEA to ban five specific and most popular strains of synthetic marijuana in 2011. That doesn’t mean that more and more strains and variations of chemicals haven’t continued to be produced, sold, and branded as synthetic marijuana or “cannabinoids.”

So, what are some of the different types of synthetic marijuana and why are they so dangerous?


What has largely deemed the most popular type of synthetic marijuana, K2 has been raking in thousands of overdoses daily across the country. For some users, smoking the drug CAN create the effect that real marijuana creates, but for a majority of others, it creates anxiety, hallucinations, panic, confusion, and overdose.

The chemical was originally sold as incense in 2006

  • K2 is often called, Yucatan fire, green giant, skunk, moon rocks, genie, zohai, and spice
  • June 27th, 2015 – over 40 overdoses from K2 in a single day, in one hospital
  • Syracuse, New York, saw 19 overdoses in one day

Synthetic Marijuana

According to a Brooklyn EMT working at the Kings County Hospital, “It creates a deep central nervous system disconnect the same way PCP or ketamine does, you’re outside of your head. You don’t have to feel emotions or pain and all those kinds of things… If I picked up a drunk who had a bottle of vodka, I’d pour it out, but when a hospital worker finds a packet of K2 in someone’s pocket, they give it back to them in their wallet.”

This EMT is referencing the fact that K2 overdoses happen hundreds of time daily around the entire country, yet it is still legal in many states and sold like cigarettes. Since it is not illegal to buy or sell sn hospital workers and first responders cannot confiscate the synthetic marijuana, K2, from people who had just overdosed on it, which means that many of these people return back to the hospital within a few hours of release, because they are smoking the same drug that was just handed back to them.


Often sold under the label of being a “mix of herbs” – Spice is one of the other most common forms of synthetic marijuana that is available on the market. While yes, it is actually a blend of herbs, it and K2 are sprayed with the synthetic marijuana coating, which enables them to have these psychoactive effects.

Black Mamba

Many users will note that this variety, as well as the rest of them, have “Not for Human Consumption” written on the bright colored, eye-catching packaging. It is sold, once again, as a natural mix of herbs to be used as incense.


Joker, quite obviously, comes in a bright colored, eye-catching bag with the comic book character, The Joker, on the front. It is actually quite an ominous image, that many people would find pretty creepy to think about smoking something that would make you feel that way, but, alas.

The Incredible Hulk

Again, named after the famous comic book character, this blend has the image of the Hulk on the front, with the description of being a “fragrant potpourri” and Kush written above that. Kush is a swipe from the long-time favorite strain of real marijuana, leading users to assume that smoking this blend will create a similar feeling.

The Rest

In total, there are over 500 known variations of synthetic marijuana compositions available on the market. There is a massive manufacturing market in China that distributes these new variations worldwide, constantly changing compounds in order to stay ahead of new laws around old versions.

The DEA has now started to make many of these chemicals illegal to buy, sell, and consume, over the past few years, but again, new strains are coming out every month in order to keep up with the demand. Some of the other brands you might come in contact with are:

  • Smoking Santa
  • Happy Joker
  • Diablo
  • Purple Diesel
  • Killer Buzz
  • Scooby Snacks
  • White Widow
  • Mad Hatter
  • Mr. Happy
  • Green Giant
  • Klimax
  • Mad Monkey
  • Smacked

Spice is so dangerous because the new versions that are coming out are completely unregulated, and users will have absolutely no idea how it will affect them until after they have smoked it.

Getting Professional Help For Synthetic Marijuana Addiction

Addiction is a serious disease, if you or someone you know struggle with Synthetic Marijuana, do not hesitate, reach out for help today and begin taking the proper steps necessary to treat addiction.

The Addiction Blog