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The active ingredient in marijuana is tetraydrocannabinol (THC). It appears on Schedule 1 of the list of controlled substances published by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and its use for any purpose is illegal in in most countries. Some researchers, chief among them John W. Huffman of Clemson University, have succeeded in producing several forms of synthetic THC in the laboratory, and these have been used to make forms of synthetic marijuana for medical use. These substances are legal in many jurisdictions, and have also been used to make smokable forms of synthetic marijuana for recreational use.
Marinol is a pharmaceutical product made from synthetic THC. It has been found to relieve the nausea of patients undergoing chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer, to stimulate the appetites of AIDS patients, and to relieve some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It is available in tablet form to patients with a prescription, and it is the only form of medical marijuana, or synthetic marijuana, approved by the DEA. The DEA maintains any form of real or synthetic marijuana that is smoked is harmful because of the variety of hazardous chemicals in any inhaled smoke.
Dronabinol, a synthetic form of delta-9 THC, which is a naturally-occurring component of Cannabis sattiva L., or marijuana, is the active ingredient in marinol. It is a yellowish resinous oil that is sticky at room temperature but hardens when cooled. Synthetic marijuana marinol tablets are formulated in three potencies, with 2.5, 5, or 10 mg of dronabinol, and several inactive ingredients, including gelatin, glycerin, and sesame oil.
Some users of dronabinol may experience allergic reactions such as difficulty breathing, hives, or swelling of the face, lips, or tongue. Others may experience more serious side effects, such as seizures, anxiety, or difficulty sleeping. Anyone experiencing adverse effects with synthetic marijuana should discontinue use and consult a doctor.
A 1999 study conducted by the United States National Academy of Sciences concluding that cannabis has certain health benefits contributed to legislation in many states permitting patients with certain ailments to use medical marijuana. The study expressed reservations about smoking marijuana because of the health risks associated with inhaled smoke. It has been suggested that recreational synthetic marijuana products, like K2 and Spice, that are meant to be smoked may present more of a health risk than real marijuana inhaled with a vaporizer or mixed into edible products.