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New case studies link smoking synthetic marijuana with stroke in healthy, young adults
Date:11/19/2013

micals untested on humans.

"You don't know what you're getting when you smoke synthetic marijuana," Dr. Burgin said. "It's like the Wild West of pharmaceuticals, and you may be playing dangerously with your brain and your health."

Not identified in standard toxicology screens, spice has become the second only to natural marijuana as the most widely used illicit drug among high school seniors, according to a 2011 survey sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In Florida, it is a third-degree felony to sell, manufacture, deliver or possess with the intent sell these synthetic drugs, so they are more difficult to buy at convenience stores or smoke shops, but still readily available online.

More physicians need to be more aware of the potentially toxic effects of recreational synthetic drugs, especially when seeing conditions like heart attack or stroke not as common in young patients, Dr. Burgin said. "Be willing to ask about pot and spice use, because it's not something patients are inclined to volunteer and synthetic marijuana does not show up on routine drug tests."

An editorial in Neurology accompanying the USF cases studies urges caution in interpreting "anecdotal reports," noting that cases of marijuana-related stroke are still few given the illicit drug's widespread use.

"In any event, if marijuana can cause ischemic stroke, and if anything pot can do spice can do better, neurologists will likely encounter increasing numbers of spice-associated strokes in the years ahead," concluded John C. M. Brust, MD, professor of clinical neurology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.


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Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
abaier@health.usf.edu
813-974-3303
University of South Florida (USF Health)
Source:Eurekalert

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