A young person who has used synthetic cannabis may appear talkative and giggly with excessive hunger or withdrawn and relaxed. They may have decreased concentration and slower reaction times.


Synthetic cannabis is a psychoactive substance that was originally designed to mimic the effects of cannabis. However there are many reports of different effects. It is often sold online, in adult stores or in herbal high shops. Since 2011 the Victorian Government has banned some synthetic cannabis. 


Synthetic cannabinoids go by many names such as Kronic, K2, Spice, Zeus, Herbal incense, Tai high, Puff, Northern lights, Joker, Marley, or Blue Lotus.


Synthetic cannabis is commercially produced and often comes in bright coloured stay fresh pouches printed with the products brand name on it. They may have words like plant matter, herbal incense or potpourri on the packaging. Inside the pouch will be a substance that looks like dried plant matter. This is in fact what it is. Manufactures spray the synthetic compounds on dried leaves or bud of a plant which is then used in the same way as cannabis.

Other things users of synthetic cannabis may have lying around include cigarette papers and filters, pestle and mortar or any small bowl with scissors (commonly used to break up and mix the synthetic cannabis with tobacco in preparation for smoking it) and cigarettes with some or all of the tobacco removed. Water pipes known as ‘bongs’ can be made at home out of any plastic drinking bottle or purchased readymade and are commonly used to smoke synthetic cannabis.


Synthetic Cannabis is a newer substance and there is limited reliable data on rates of use in Australia. What we do know is that there has been a decrease in synthetic cannabis use in the last few years however in that time there has been an increase in ED presentation relating to synthetic cannabis use. 

Synthetic cannabis seems to have more potential for adverse effects and overdose than natural cannabis


Synthetic cannabis and cannabis can have some effects in common, if someone has used either they may seem:

  • relaxed
  • decreased
  • concentration,
  • Slower reaction times.
  •  Auditory and visual hallucinations.

It is important to note that some of the newer substances being labelled “synthetic cannabis” do not mimic the effects of main chemical found in cannabis. The effects of synthetic cannabis are being reported by users can be negative and potentially harmful:

  • fast and irregular heartbeat
  • racing thoughts
  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • psychosis
  • aggression
  • chest pain
  • vomiting
  • seizures
  • stroke
  • death

As Synthetic Cannabis and New Psychoactive Substances are new to the market/ sector at times there is limited information on their long term effects.

The strength of synthetic cannabis and the chemicals used vary from batch to batch. This makes it hard to predict what the effects of it will be.

Unlike regular cannabis, it is possible to overdose on synthetic cannabis. Signs of an overdose are; agitation, confusion, seizures, vomiting, loss of consciousness, high or low blood pressure (hyper/hypotension) and any chest pain or discomfort (myocardial ischemia or myocardial dysfunction). In this instance, a young person should be calmed and reassured and medical advice should be sought immediately.

Didn’t find what you are looking for? We know families and carers can be pretty worried when they are looking for info so we’ve just given you the most relevant fast facts for families and carers. For a more comprehensive guide we recommend the ADF’s fact sheet. Remember, we understand how stressful it can be when you are worried about a young person.