The dangers of synthetic cannabis have been known for quite a while. In fact, there is a synthetic drug saliva test now available that can detect this substance. The illicit drug manufacturers are quite crafty in their attempts to produce drugs able to escape detection from conventional drug tests, but quality drug testing services have proven they are up to the challenge of detecting this particular synthetic drug. However, what cannot be known until time passes are all the long-term effects on the human body after repeatedly using synthetic cannabis. However, that is changing because medical researchers recently reported they linked synthetic marijuana use to acute kidney injury.
The branch of medicine dealing with the diagnosis and management of kidney disease is called nephrology. It was University of Alabama at Birmingham, Alabama (USA) nephrologists who recently reported in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology that drugs like Kronic (also known as K2 and SPICE) have been linked to acute kidney injury. In the past, there were documented cases of acute coronary syndrome associated with synthetic marijuana use, but doctors have not associated the drug with kidney injury before now. If the patients had continued to use the substance, they would have likely had permanent kidney damage due to the death of kidney cells. The word “linked” instead of “caused” is used because it may be the unknown additives in synthetic marijuana that caused the kidney injury, rather than the cannabinoid.1
Profoundly and Extremely Dangerous
For employers, it does not matter if it is the cannabinoid or the additive compounds that are causing kidney damage. All that matters is, 1) a worker under the influence of a cannabinoid presents workplace safety issues due to temporary mental and physical impairment, and 2) the health impacts of substance abuse will cause productivity declines and increased medical expenses. It is important for employers to take advantage of medical science advances that now enable workplace saliva drug testing for synthetic marijuana like Kronic.
Anyone believing that cannabinoid use does not signify a serious drug problem is mistaken. Just recently, Newcastle psychiatrist Dr. Allan White was quoted as saying that cannabis products are “profoundly and extremely dangerous.” He should know because the medical professional has been treating synthetic cannabis patients for years. His patients have substance induced medical problems like respiratory disease, depression, and psychosis.”2
Employers need to be aware of all the known dangers associated with synthetic cannabis use. A 2012 Australian study of Kronic users indicated that 78 percent of people surveyed were employed and 70 percent of those surveyed had used Kronic 10 or more times. Another point employers need to keep in mind is that Kronic use is not limited to the very young. The study subjects were 18 to 64 years old and 25 percent were 35 years old or older. It can be ingested using a waterpipe or bong, joint, or pipe, but it is also eaten, making it simple to use in the workplace. Reported side effects include decreased motor coordination, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, confusion, dissociation, panic, headache, nausea, vomiting, in addition to depression and psychosis, all of which can seriously affect job performance.
There is one more reason to drug test for synthetic cannabis. It reinforces the fact the employer stays current on substance abuse issues and will not tolerate use of any substance that impairs the ability of workers to do their jobs. In the Australian study just mentioned, 76 percent of the people believed Kronic was less likely to be detected by workplace drug testing and 8 percent tried Kronic because they were looking for a substance that would enable them to evade workplace drug testing.
As more is learned about the consequences of using synthetic cannabis, the more it is understood that workplace testing for this substance is important for maintaining workplace safety. CMM Technology (http://cmm.com.au/) offers synthetic cannabis testing services that can be easily incorporated into standard drug and alcohol testing procedures.
1 G. K. Bhanushali, G. Jain, H. Fatima, L. J. Leisch, D. Thornley-Brown. AKI Associated with Synthetic Cannabinoids: A Case Series. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 2012; DOI:10.2215/CJN.05690612.
2 McCarthy, Joanne. (22 January 2013) Expert warns of dangers of synthetic cannabis. Retrieved from the Newcastle Herald at: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/1252242/expert-warns-of-dangers-of-synthetic-cannabis/.
3 Barratt, Monica. (16 April 2012) Kronic appeal: Patterns of synthetic cannabinoid use in Australia. Presentation made by at Yarra Drug and Health Forum by National Drug Research Institute, Fitzroy Town Hall, 16 April 2012. Retrieved at http://www.ydhf.org.au/data/Barratt%20-%20Kronic%20study.pdf.