This isn't Nando's menu, you don’t get to choose your level of spice. The drug ‘Spice’ was meant to be a legal alternative to cannabis, but the supposedly herbal smoking mix has since been made illegal. Clearly, it’s NSFW - but why? What does Spice do to you? And how does it match up to it’s relaxing counterpart? We’ll answer all those questions and more, if you just keep reading.

A young woman is sitting at a desk. She is looking at papers, confused. She is trying to understand what Spice is. This is a wide-angle image.

What does Spice do to you? 

Spice is the simple name for a chemical and herbal mixture that mimics the effects of cannabis. It imitates the psychoactive effects of THC – the active ingredient in weed that gets you stoned. This means that it affects the brain and can be potentially mind-altering. To hear what cannabis is capable of doing to the mind, click here

It’s important to note that Spice usually contains synthetic cannabinoids, such as JWH-018, which can be five times stronger than regular cannabis. These cannabinoids are usually sprayed onto a mix of dried plant materials to produce a smoking mixture. So, if you really want to take it – proceed with EXTREME caution. 

Much as we’d like to, The Mix can’t tell you exactly what’s in herbal smoking mixes like spice because the plant material is regularly changed in an attempt to dodge new regulation laws. All we can say for sure is that they’re probably not made for long-term human consumption; do with that information what you will.  But typically they’re packaged in small colourful sachets claiming to be incense or herbal smoking mixtures.

How do you take spice? 

Most people smoke it in a joint or pipe, but you can also drink it as a herbal tea. Just don’t put it in mum’s tea cabinet, cause you’ll have one hell of a tea time. 

Why do people take spice?

What does spice do to you that’s positive? Well, if spice DOES contain synthetic cannabinoids, users can expect to experience:

  • A relaxed chilled-out feeling, with some users reporting a rush of euphoria
  • Uncontrollable, unprovoked giggling and a desire to talk to others
  • Difficulty concentrating and problems with simple coordination skills
  • Increased appetite and hunger pangs

What are the effects of synthetic cannabinoids? 

  • Experts believe synthetic cannabinoids can produce harmful effects similar to those in cannabis, it is called synthetic marijuana or fake weed after all. These include things such as paranoia, panic attacks, and memory loss
  • Users can experience a raised pulse rate, dry mouth, and dizziness which could lead to accidents
  • There is no way of knowing what is in spice, or how strong the batch you buy will be. So every time you take it you are playing roulette, and have no idea what effect it will have on your body and mind
  • Regular use could increase the risk of developing psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia
  • Withdrawal symptoms include strong cravings for spice, mood swings, weight loss, insomnia, getting the shakes and diarrhoea

Be aware that these are just possibilities, really anything could happen. The effects of Spice are so, so unpredictable because no one, besides the person who made it, knows what’s actually in the specific concoction you had. 

How can I reduce the risks if I take spice?

  • Don’t take spice if you have a history of mental illness. Anyone with mental health issues usually find using psychoactive drugs make their problems worse.
  • Don’t trust the labelling of a supposed ‘legal’ version of spice. Be aware that you don’t know what is in your packet without forensic testing. It may still contain illegal synthetic drugs, and if you are caught with it you could be facing a hefty jail sentence plus a fine. Not exactly something you can explain away to the parents. 

Spice and the law

Products containing synthetic cannabinoids are classified as a Class B drug, so the maximum sentence is five years and a fine for possession. For more information about what to do if you’re caught with drugs, see our article here.

Next Steps

  • FRANK offers friendly, confidential advice on all things drugs-related. Call now on 0300 123 6600
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.


drugs a-z

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 31-Aug-2021