Health Canada has issued a warning about “synthetic marijuana” products that have been found in Canadian retail stores.
The products typically consist of plant material sprayed or coated with synthetic cannabinoids.
Sometimes marketed as a legal alternative to marijuana and described as “smokeable herbal incense” or “legal highs,” the products are being smoked for their cannabis-like effects.
“Health Canada does not recommend consuming any of these products as they are rarely labelled with an accurate ingredient list and consuming them may lead to adverse health effects,” Health Canada said in a statement.
Some of the possible consequences of using synthetic marijuana include agitation, memory loss, acute psychosis, seizures, paranoid behaviour, high blood pressure, chest pain, and nausea, to name a few.
Health Canada says the drug may be available at some convenience stores, particularly specialty tobacco stores and head shops.
Undercover CBC reporters found synthetic cannabinoids for sale in stores across the country. Some of the brands include IZMS, Spice, K2, and Earth Impact.
The products have attracted increasing attention in the U.S. due to the serious health issues they cause. According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, synthetic marijuana was the cause of over 11,000 hospital emergency visits in 2010.
A number of states in the U.S. have banned the sale of synthetic cannabinoids, and last year the U.S. federal government enacted a national ban on the sale of the products.
According to Health Canada, products that contain ingredients that are similar synthetic preparations of cannabis are regulated under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act.
All activities related to these products including production, distribution, and import are illegal in Canada, Health Canada says, and law enforcement agencies can remove them from retail stores or seize them at points of entry.
Health Canada says it is collaborating with authorities at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels as well as law enforcement officials to collect information about synthetic marijuana and to ensure retailers are aware that it cannot be legally sold in Canada.
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