If having to deal with the increased usage of marijuana in the workplace — including how to handle medically prescribed marijuana — is not enough for employers, a recent study shows an increase in synthetic marijuana use in college and university adults. It will not take long for synthetic marijuana to show up more heavily in the workplace and I am sure it is already here!

What is Synthetic Marijuana?

Synthetic marijuana is a psychoactive herbal and chemical product which, when consumed, mimics the effects of cannabis. It is best known by the brand names K2 and Spice. There are a large and complex variety of synthetic cannabinoids,

What are its symptoms?

No "official studies" have been conducted on its effects on humans. Though its effects are not well documented, extremely large doses may cause negative effects that are generally not noted in marijuana users, such as increased agitation and vomiting. One case has been reported where a user, who had previously suffered from cannabis, induced recurrent psychotic episodes. Synthetic marijuana does not have the tell-tale burning smell that marijuana does.

Will it show up on a standard drug test?

Probably not in your standard workplace saliva and urine screenings, although it will show up in some specialized urine tests. If you suspect the employee is under the influence of synthetic marijuana, tell you testing lab so they can refine the urine test.

It is illegal?

As of March 1, 2011, five cannabinoids, are now illegal in the US. It is also illegal in California to sell, dispense, distribute, furnish, administer, give, offer to sell, dispense, distribute, furnish, administer or give, or possesses for sale any synthetic cannabinoid compound, or any synthetic cannabinoid derivative, to any person, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding $1,000, or by both that fine and imprisonment. These penalties are higher than they are in the case of marijuana.

Does my handbook cover the use and/or possession of Synthetic Marijuana in the workplace?

If you have a "zero tolerance" drug policy and/or a "prohibited behavior" policy dealing with illegal activities, you are covered.

What does it look like?

Here's a link to a photo of — and more information about — synthetic marijuana:

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