En español

Synthetic Marijuana Lands Thousands of Young People in the ER, Especially Young Males

Infographic - see text below for description

Text Description of Infographic

Since bursting on the scene a few years ago, synthetic marijuana (MJ)—often called “Spice” or “K2”—has become the second most popular illegal drug among American teenagers, after MJ. It is especially popular among teenage boys. Sometimes touted as a “natural,” “safe,” and (until recently) legal alternative to pot, this very un-natural class of designer chemicals has shown itself to be a dangerous threat. Thousands of teens and young adults, mostly young males, are ending up in emergency rooms with severe symptoms that may include vomiting, racing heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, seizures, or hallucinations.

Top graphic (male, female symbols): By gender, 14% of male and 8% of female high school seniors abused synthetic marijuana.

How Many Teens Are Using Synthetic MJ?

  • In 2012, 11% of American high school seniors used synthetic marijuana in the past year.1

11,406 ER Visits In 2010 Were Associated With Synthetic MJ.2

  • 75% were among adolescents and young adults ages 12-29
  • 22.5% of these visits involved females, and 77.5% involved males


1. Monitoring the Future Survey, 2012; 2. Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2012

Related Publications

Publication: Research Report Series - Marijuana

Marijuana (Research Reports)

Published October 2002. Revised July 2012. Explores the latest research on marijuana, including the scope of marijuana use in the U.S., health consequences, its effects on every-day activities, available treatments. En Español

Is Marijuana Medicine? (DrugFacts)

Revised April 2014. Offers facts about marijuana's viability as a legal medical treatment and about potential and approved treatments using chemicals derived from marijuana (cannabinoids). En Español

Nationwide Trends (DrugFacts)

Published April 2011. Revised January 2014. Examines nationwide trends in drug abuse and addiction among youth, describing lifetime, past year and past month use for alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription drugs. En Español

Marijuana (DrugFacts)

Published December 2012. Revised January 2014. Offers facts about marijuana, including how it is used, its effects on the brain and overall health, treatment options, and the potential of marijuana as a therapy for various health problems. En Español

Drug-Related Hospital Emergency Room Visits (DrugFacts)

Revised May 2011. Provides national estimates on drug-related visits to hospital emergency departments and makes comparisons with previous years’ data. Discusses illicit drugs, alcohol and other drugs, and prescription drugs. En Español

This page was last updated February 2013