OPINION: Up in Smoke

web spr13 Darla Fish
DARLA FISH | The Ranger

Back in the day when people talked about incense, they were referring to a long, skinny stick or a cone-shaped piece of pressed particles that was used to put an aroma in the air. Apparently that is not what most kids today imagine when it is mentioned.

For the past few years, a number of products posing as incense have been popping up and quickly selling out to teens and college students in convenience stores and smoke shops across the country. They are being sold with names such as K2, Atomic Bomb and Spice.

The package clearly states that it is not for human consumption, but it is being smoked anyway. The main logic behind smoking the incense is that people get a brief buzz from smoking it and, hey, it’s legal.

Whether it is called K2, Spice or synthetic cannabis, you should be aware that it is dangerous.

Reports have come from across the United States that people are hurting themselves or others when they are under its influence. Whether the substance can be blamed for those incidents is not completely clear. What is known is that, legal or not, synthetic marijuana is showing up increasingly in hospital cases. Synthetic pot reportedly sent more than 11,000 people to the emergency room in 2010. Synthetic marijuana is known to cause elevated heart rates and blood pressure, muscle twitching, anxiety and in some cases, hallucinations. It also has been suggested as a possible cause of kidney damage, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Introducing any burning substance into your lungs is, frankly, not a smart thing to do. Keep in mind that just because something is legal does not make it healthy. I am not advocating the use of marijuana, but if you are comparing the two, I would say smoking a naturally grown herb would be a better way to go versus smoking something that has been sprayed with all kinds of chemicals. A lot of those chemicals have been reported to have cancer-causing agents in them. The safest thing to do is to not smoke anything, including cigarettes, at all.

If you are thinking about using any of the aforementioned substances, the thing you need to keep in mind is quite simple. It isn’t about whether it is legal to use. The question is, “Is it really worth risking health issues for a quick buzz?”

If you already have tried any of the substances, take a hard look at what you may have in store for yourself regarding the long-term effect on your health if you continue to use them.

Your future could be up in smoke.

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