Posted on behalf of Wrexham Community Safety Partnership.

If you read the news or use social media, you’ve probably heard about ‘Spice’ or ‘Mamba.’

And you probably know that Wrexham – like many other towns and cities in the UK – is battling with the effects of this dangerous drug.

But what is it exactly? And why is it often more potent – and more difficult to deal with – than other drugs?

Some basic questions answered…


What do people mean when they talk about ‘Spice’ or ‘Mamba’?

Spice and Mamba were originally brand-names for drugs sold as ‘legal highs’ (before the law changed) – along with other brands like Happy Joker.

But they became nicknames for pretty much anything containing ‘synthetic cannabinoids.’

They usually take the form of a herbal mixture laced with synthetic cannabinoids, and sold in little snap bags.

Synthetic cannabinoids? What are they?

Cannabis comes from the cannabis plant.

Synthetic cannabinoids are basically man-made drugs – created in back-street labs – that affect the same parts of the brain as cannabis.

They were originally developed by research chemists in the 1980s…but were never manufactured or clinically tested on humans.

So why is Spice / Mamba so potent?

It’s not always potent. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. Every bag can be different.

But as people wanted products that were more and more powerful, increasingly potent versions came on the scene.

There are hundreds of varieties of synthetic cannabis – and it can be up to 800 times more potent than natural cannabis.

What’s more, it often lacks the calming effects of its natural counterpart.

Is it legal?

When it first arrived on the scene, the law hadn’t caught up…and products containing synthetic cannabinoids were being sold in shops.

They were banned, but within days new versions appeared with a different chemical make-up – keeping them inside the law.

However, since April 2016 it’s been illegal to sell or make any synthetic cannabinoid.

And since December 2016, most known versions have become Class B drugs – making them illegal to possess.

What does it do to your body?

It takes effect quickly when smoked, and usually peaks during the first 30 minutes.

It’s common for users to experience breathing difficulties, dizziness and collapse. Seizures, heart attacks, renal injuries and skin problems have also been reported.

Although ambulance call-outs and hospital admissions are common, deaths are relatively rare.

What does it do to your mind?

Obviously, it’s not good. Frightening hallucinations are common, and users feel like they’re in a different reality.

It can reach the point where users don’t know their own name or realise they’re even human – and are often described as being in a ‘zombie-like state.’

Anxiety, depression, confusion, suicidal thoughts, amnesia and non-sensical speech are just some of the reported effects.

These are just some of the key facts about Spice / Mamba, but they illustrate why the drug is so damaging – and why it’s so difficult to deal with.

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