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Synthetic marijuana found to cause severe kidney damage

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Apparently “Mr. Happy” can give people some “Phantom Wicked Dreams” – or wicked damage to their bodies.

Those are a couple of the names of “synthetic cannabinoids” – manufactured drugs that mimic the effects of marijuana.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this year reported on cases of acute kidney injury in patients who had used the synthetic marijuana in days or even within just hours of feeling the damage to their bodies.

Thomasville Cush

Photos/Thomasville Police Department

Synthetic marijuana seized from the EZ Tobacco Shop in Thomasville, N.C.

The physical symptoms in the 16 cases turned up by an investigation were nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, flank pain, back pain, and inability to pass urine.

These synthetic or “designer” drugs go by many names: Vanilla Sky, Blue Silk, Ivory Wave, Bliss, Spice, Spice Gold, K2, Kush, Mad Monkey, Clown Loyal, Lava.

Some of the names would be almost funny, but for the deadly product they represent.

I’ve touched on this topic before: the horrific effects of synthetic drugs, a big bust in Thomasville, N.C., a crackdown in eastern North Carolina, and the tragic story of brothers killed by a train they didn’t even hear coming.

The drugs were outlawed in North Carolina in June 2011, but with a little tweaking of the ingredients, manufacturers get them back on the market legally.

Another synthetic drug that was outlawed in June is “bath salts,” marketed under names such as Vanilla Sky and Bliss. Bath salts are incredibly deadly. The drugs are sold in “head shops,” in so-called tobacco shops, on the Internet and even in convenience stores.

They can be smoked, snorted or injected, and may cause increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, chest pains, and other harmful effects. The physical reactions can result in death.

But bath salts’ extreme psychotic reactions are the most shocking. There have been reports of car crashes, self-mutilations, suicides and homicides linked to the use of bath salts.

“Some of these folks aren’t right for a long time,” said Karen E. Simone, director of the Northern New England Poison Center. “If you gave me a list of drugs that I wouldn’t want to touch, this would be at the top.”

The man-made pot, synthetic cannabinoids, is typically dissolved in a solvent, applied to dried plant material, and smoked like marijuana.

It even comes in flavors such as blueberry or bubblegum, which was news to me.

The dangers of synthetic drugs are myriad; acute kidney injury is just another addition. Despite their prettied-up names, flavored-up taste, slick packaging, and easy availability in places as mundane as convenience stores, people need to be aware of what they are:

Death for sale.