Synthetic versions of cannabinoids, or marijuana, are on the rise in popularity and frequency, and a large national study has identified key risk factors for use of synthetic marijuana. Commonly perceived as a safe alternative to illicit cannabis use, synthetic marijuana has actually been linked to over 11,000 poisonings over a three-year period. Researchers, doctors, and others involved in the drug abuse sphere are worried about the rise of synthetic drug use, especially as it pertains to regulation and safety. The study affiliated with New York University’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research found that males were at greater risk of using synthetic marijuana than females, and that white students were more likely to report use than black students. Individuals who used other drugs were also more likely to engage in synthetic marijuana use than individuals who did not use other drugs. Dr. Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH is an affiliated researcher of the study and explained that ”┬áit is likely that many of these synthetic marijuana users resort to trying this “legal,” but more dangerous version of marijuana in order to avoid possible arrest, detection on drug screenings, or the stigma associated with being an illicit drug user.”

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