Spice and Marijuana are on their face similar drugs. They are sold to users with the message that they have a similar effect, producing a light high (light compared to psychedelic mushrooms, LSD, MDMA, etc.). This is not the case. The two products are extremely different, and the use of spice is much riskier than that of marijuana.
Marijuana, or the bud of flowering cannabis plants, has been ground and smoked by people, according to many historians, since the dawn of man. Sativa, the name of one of the two main categories of marijuana, means ‘helper’ in Latin. The natural high of marijuana produced by THC molecules latching on to specially adapted receptors in the brain is essentially harmless.
Anecdotally pot smokers are excused of being disproportionally lazy, or dangerous behind the wheel. But there is no clinical evidence to support these claims. Once a person has practiced driving high on marijuana they are no greater risk on the road than an average driver.
Today, there is a great movement across the globe, and in the U.S., to legalize marijuana. Medical marijuana production is strictly regulated, and it is likely within the near future that its sale will mostly be regulated as well through state-registered dispensaries. The cannabis plant is manipulated in several ways to produce various products like edibles and oils, which may or may not contain THC. These are sold in dispensaries alongside marijuana.
Spice is a synthetic marijuana substitute. The product consists of ground-up plants or other random materials which are sprayed with various cannabinoids. These molecules resemble THC. For the most part, they latch on to the same receptors in the brain, in some cases however they do not. Spice is known to induce seizures, heart attacks, hallucinations, and paranoia to a degree unheard of through marijuana use. There are absolutely terrifying first-hand accounts of people’s experiences with spice on Youtube.
Of particular concern is how spice is manufactured and packaged. Although it is marketed as a substitute for natural marijuana, spice is not synthetic whatsoever. Also, it is not regulated whatsoever during the manufacturing stage.
Typically spice is produced in underground labs in Russia and China at minimal costs. Therefore there is no accounting for the chemicals it may contain and contents may vary from batch to batch. As the contents vary, so may the consequences of smoking a particular bunch of spice.