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AKA K2, Mamba, AK-47

Oct 11

The Drug

Spice is the general term for synthetic cannabis smoking mixtures. It is not something you can just smoke casually – it is hugely stronger than normal cannabis (including skunk). One or two tokes will have a very powerful effect, and often too much for the inexperienced smoker.

Spice is smoked in a spliff or a roll-up and gives a very intense high, or even a short hallucinatory trip. It is overpoweringly strong; many people can feel unwell after taking it. It has no connection to the cannabis plant.

Synthetic cannabinoids have emerged in recent years as plant matter infused with chemicals and are designed to copy the effects of THC, one of the active ingredients in cannabis. The chemical is sprayed onto plant material which is then packaged and made to appear similar to bags of weed – in other words giving the false impression of a ‘natural’ substance.

In May 2016, Spice became illegal to supply or sell and in December a Class B drug. It costs about £5 a gram.

Also known as: Mamba, K2.


It is a powerful drug to smoke and the high is intense and trippy. It may only take one or two drags/tokes/hits to get the full effect. You will be unable to converse very easily. The peak of the high fades after 20-30 minutes. Some reports of vomiting and headaches. You may lose good control over you limbs and feel dizzy. You may feel paranoid and there is a risk of panic attack. There have been many incidents of people collapsing and seeking hospital care.


There have been few studies carried out on spice so it is impossible to say what its harms are in the longer term. It has been shown that synthetic cannabis can cause chronic addiction with broken sleep patterns, loss of appetite and mental health problems. These levels of addiction put high pressure on relationships.

Any strong high will exacerbate any mental health problems. A trippy experience can also be very disturbing and you are vulnerable to self injury.

Be Safe

It is important to remember spice is a very strong drug – it should not be treated like just another type of cannabis. Smoke only tiny amounts – avoid smoking regularly. Addiction can develop in just a few weeks. Look out for friends who may be overcome by the effects such as vomiting or collapse.

The Law

Spice is illegal to supply or sell. Its supply was outlawed by the Psychoactive Substances Act on 26 May 2016. It is illegal to purchase and import from foreign websites. There is no possession offence but if caught by the police they may make an arrest prior to testing. In December 2016 many spice substances became Class B drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

What is synthetic cannabis?
Synthetic cannabis, also known as Spice and Black Mamba, was once a ‘legal’ alternative to herbal cannabis. This plant is not ‘natural’ as it is chopped vegetable matter sprayed with chemicals that has overpoweringly potent psychoactive properties. Synthetic cannabis is much more powerful than skunk, in fact, those who smoke it are 30Xs more likely to seek emergency treatment.

Do you smoke it in a joint?
Yes, synthetic cannabis is usually prepared in a tobacco joint. It is extremely hard to measure a safe dose as the chemicals can vary massively in strength. Some people report collapsing after only one or two drags.

Is it addictive?
Yes. It can take a matter of days to feel withdrawal symptoms from smoking synthetic cannabis. Withdrawal symptoms include: anxiety; insomnia; paranoia; palpitations; sickness. People should seek assisted treatment options if they decide to withdraw.