Local head shops are peddling a very potent new brand of synthetic cannabis—but is it perhaps too potent?
There’s a new brand of synthetic pot available in head shops and convenience stores around the Annex. It’s called The Izms, and it’s being given away like Halloween candy. Just walk into one of the many outlets selling it and ask about the free samples—they’ll happily give you a pre-rolled joint sealed in a plastic baggy.
Other brands of fake weed on the market are mostly popular in countries with draconian pot laws like the U.S. and Japan. But, here in Toronto, The Izms have quickly found a loyal customer base. Beyond the samples, the product comes in 1.25g and 3.5g packets.
“All summer, I sold maybe thousands of those packets and not one customer came back with complaints,” says Jimmi Hatzoglidis, owner of Conscious Consumption (a.k.a. High Times, 714 Bloor St. W.).
Some users like The Izms because it’s readily available, while others prefer it to the real stuff because it’s supposedly legal (more on this later). The Izms smells nothing like marijuana; it’s more like shisha, so you could smoke it in public and no one would sniff twice. The lab-cooked synthetic cannabinoids in the herbal mixture stimulate the same receptors in the brain as THC (the psychoactive ingredient in pot), so the effect is a very weed-like stoning. But, with any new, untested product, there is cause for concern.
“On the packaging it actually says, ‘not for human consumption,’” says Lina Godin, owner of Envirohemp (509 Bloor St. W.). “If it’s not supposed to be for human consumption, why is it in such a demand?”
Before sparking up your free sample, here are some things you should know about The Izms.
1. It gets you ridiculously high
On their promotional flyers, The Izms advertises itself as being “stronger than those weak ass American brands.” A few puffs from a sample spliff and you’re red-eyed. Share a joint with friends, and everyone in the circle will be ripped within minutes. All it takes is a tiny pinch.
But smoking too much can be scary. Synthetic cannabinoids can be several hundred times more powerful than THC, so The Izms is far more potent than what some recreational pot-smokers may be used to. For this reason, Izms retailers tell their buyers to start with very small amounts.
2. No one really knows exactly what’s in it
If you call The Izms’ customer-service line to inquire about what ingredients are in the product, don’t expect to get answers; company representative Adam Wookey declined to comment on which cannabinoids—or any other additives—comprise The Izms’ formula. (Conscious Consumption’s Hatzoglidis claims his own research leads him to believe the cannabinoids are laced with benign, smokable herbs like wild mushroom root and skullcap.)
But if we don’t know exactly what’s in it, then we don’t know what the side effects might be, or its addiction potential. Which means…
3. It could be dangerous
So often with synthetic drugs, unforeseen side effects emerge after long periods of use. (Take Adderall XR, for example.) The Izms hasn’t been studied in an official capacity yet, so its long-term effects are unknown. Until some objective research is conducted, or a full ingredients list released, we don’t know for sure how safe it is.
4. Other brands of synthetic weed have sent people to the hospital
Given the harsh nature of U.S. drug laws, some of our Yankee neighbours have turned to synthetic weed as a legal alternative. In the States, you can even pick it up at gas stations, where it goes by names like K2, Spice, Dream, or Cloud Nine. K2 is the most infamous of the bunch, with reported cases of teenagers ending up in the hospital with heart attacks, or fatal chemical burns in their lungs. The artificial drugs have also been linked with psychosis and hallucinations.
5. It’s legal… or is it?
Though The Izms is advertised as being 100 per cent legal, it falls into a murky area of Canadian law. “In Canada, these synthetic cannabinoids are considered to be similar synthetic preparations of cannabis, and thus are subject to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act,” Christelle Legault, media relations officer for Health Canada, tells me in an email.
“These substances have a mechanism of action similar to that of THC, the principal psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. As such, synthetic cannabinoids are likely to have effects which are similar to those associated with the use of marijuana. Long-term effects can result from the regular use of products containing synthetic cannabinoids and may persist long after drug use has stopped. Some of these effects can also occur even after using the drug only once. Long-term effects may include irritation of the respiratory passages, if smoked; cognitive changes and cognitive impairment; psychotic episodes; or schizophrenia in susceptible individuals. It is not known whether products containing synthetic cannabinoids are addictive. Still, those who use these drugs frequently may develop tolerance and experience withdrawal symptoms similar to those observed with marijuana.
“While Health Canada is aware that there are products being sold in Canada that contain these synthetic substances, the Department would like to emphasize that it is illegal to sell, import, produce, export, or possess these substances or any products containing them unless authorized by regulation or via an exemption issued under Section 56 to the CDSA.”
But, according to The Izms’ Wookey, the cannabinoids in The Izms aren’t listed under the Schedule 2 of the CDSA. Thus, he contends The Izms is, in fact, legal in Canada.
Have you tried The Izms? Share your experiences in the comments section below.