Advertisements for legal buds, herbal smoke and other legal highs openly suggest that they are alternatives to their illicit counterparts.  On the package the products carry disclaimers like, “not for human consumption”.  The obvious contradiction does not sway consumers from purchasing these fake drugs.

The knock off marijuana is frequently named after famous strains of real pot. Names like Orange Kush, Dutch Haze, and Skunk are used to market the fake weed. So what is in this stuff? The big online stores only give vague descriptions of the product’s ingredients. From,

International Oddities offers a unique selection – over 30 custom hybrid plants, and each product has its own unique qualities to be appreciated. For over 20 years our smoking experience has brought the public high quality top smoke at affordable prices

In response to the question “What are the effects?” has this to say,  “Sorry – we don’t discuss effects.” The herbal marijuana dealers emphasize that the herbs burn well and are easy to smoke. They carefully steer clear of the actual effect of the “drugs”. The purpose of doing drugs, legal or otherwise, is to get high isn’t it? Otherwise we’d all be smoking bubble gum cigarettes and drinking root beer. lists some of their ingredients:

  • Mugwort
  • Damiana
  • Kava Kava
  • Wild Lettuce
  • Lavendar
  • Mexican Damiana
  • and others

These ingredients are basically all herbal teas.  Why would you pay $50 per ounce online when you can buy these teas for $2 per bag locally?  Why would you smoke herbal tea anyway?

There is another kind of fake marijuana that really gets you high, sort of.  Some newer brands such as Spice, K2 and Red Bliss actually contain synthetic chemicals sprayed onto herbal tea.  In real marijuana there are a whole bunch of chemicals called cannabinoids that contribute to the high.  Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, abbreviated as THC, is the most well-known cannabinoid.  Many cannabinoids occur naturally in the brain and are part of our everyday function.  Here is a great website that will explain the chemical process of marijuana and other drugs in an easy and fun way, Mouse Party.  The fake pot contains man-created cannabinoids similar to those found in Marinol (the DEA approved cancer medicine).

The cannabinoids in K2 and others produce a high that is similar to marijuana but with more psychological than physical effect.  Users report a head high that lasts approximately 30 minutes then a long period of “grogginess”.  Many users also say they feel hangover-like symptoms the next day.  Marijuana does not produce a hangover effect.  The fake pot that contains synthetic cannabinoids sells for roughly the same price as real marijuana and in many cases more.  It does not show up on standard drug tests and that is why a lot of people use it.

The disclaimer on reads:

If you choose to smoke these herbs, please be advised that you do so at your own risk.

Most online legal bud suppliers require that you be 18 years old to purchase the fake weed. These are not controlled substances, why put an age restriction on them?

The main assumption that legal drug advertisers rely on is that legal means safe. The legal status is no guarantee that these drugs are safe.  Pharmaceutical companies spend many years testing a product before it is approved for human use.  Illicit drugs have been used for decades and marijuana has been used by humans for over 10,000 years.  There have been many scientific studies done on illicit drugs and while controversial at least there is data on these drugs.  The new legal highs have zero scientific data available to the public.

Attempts have been made to criminalize these legal highs all over the world. Which is more absurd than actually smoking fake pot. Professor Tony Moffat of the London School of Pharmacy says this about fake pot:

“The downside is that it can scramble your brain in large quantities. We don’t know what side effects they have – psychotic episodes, heart attacks, they may cause schizophrenia.”

He completely made that up. The main reason they want to make these drugs illegal is there is no science to back them up. A better approach would be to conduct studies that investigate the effects. In the current paradigm of selective prohibition legislators can pick and choose which drugs are legal based solely on opinion. What a mess.

Marijuana is very safe to use, there has never been a death due to marijuana overdose and no case of cancer, heart disease or emphysema has ever been attributed to cannabis use.  What can be said for the legal highs?  They are expensive and the effects are weak at best.  If you are going to do drugs do real drugs that work.