Updated on February 6, 2024
8 min read

What Is Mojo?

Mojo, also known as K2, Spice, or synthetic marijuana, is a synthetic designer drug designed to mimic the effects of marijuana. It typically appears as a dried, leafy substance, similar to natural marijuana.

While its synthetic nature makes it appealing to recreational users, it has gained notoriety for its dangerous and unpredictable effects. In this blog article, we discuss how mojo works, its long-term implications, and how you should respond to Mojo overdose.

An unknown mans darkened hand holds a bag of synthetic marijuana or Mojo

What is Mojo?

Mojo is a synthetic designer drug intended to mimic the effects and appearance of marijuana. They look like a dried plant material, sprayed and coated with synthetic chemicals with THC-like effects. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive compound of natural marijuana.

Other names for Mojo include:

  • K2
  • Spice
  • Fake Weed
  • Synthetic marijuana
  • Synthetic cannabis
  • AK-47
  • Mr. Happy
  • Scooby Snax
  • Kush
  • Kronic
  • Joker
  • Green Giant
  • Caution
  • Smacked
  • Wicked X
  • Herbal Incense
  • Yucatan Fire
  • Skunk
  • Moon Rocks
  • Genie
  • Blaze
  • Red X Dawn
  • Fire
  • Aroma
  • Mr. Smiley
  • Mr. Nice Guy
  • Zohai
  • Black Mamba
  • Dream
  • Earth impact
  • JWH-018
  • JWH-073
  • JWH-250

People can buy Mojo online and in common places, such as:

  • Head shops
  • Tobacco or smoke shops
  • Convenience stores
  • Gas stations

Mojo is often sold in small, colorful packets or bags with bright logos and catchy names to attract consumers. Manufacturers usually market them as an herbal blend, incense, potpourri, or air freshener. These deceptive marketing tactics contribute to the misconception that Mojo is a safe or natural alternative to marijuana.1,2,4,5,6,7

Is Mojo Legal?

The Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 classified 26 types of synthetic cannabinoids as Schedule I controlled substances. This means these substances have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”7,11,13,14

Aside from the federal government, many state and local governments have banned synthetic cannabinoids.9,7,16

Manufacturers can dodge these laws by:2,3,13

  • Labeling the product as “not for human consumption” to hide the intended purpose and avoid the regulatory oversight of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Creating new synthetic cannabinoid products with different ingredients but the same effect as real marijuana

Regardless of being a synthetic product, synthetic cannabinoids and their derivatives (THC compounds such as vape) have no legitimate or approved use from federal laws. These products also come with risks and side effects similar to natural marijuana.

What Does Mojo Do?

Mojo mimics the effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in natural marijuana. THC is the primary psychoactive component and one of the 113 cannabinoids in marijuana.4,10

Mojo mimics natural marijuana through a mixture of several compounds called “synthetic cannabinoids.”6 These chemicals attach to the same brain receptors as THC. However, they may bind more strongly and produce much stronger effects.2,4,7

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Natural Marijuana vs Synthetic Marijuana

Synthetic marijuana is a blend of different chemicals. This means Mojo contains more than one synthetic cannabinoid. Hundreds of these chemicals are combined to mimic THC’s effect.7

Moreover, synthetic marijuana contains non-cannabinoid chemicals, like synthetic cathinone (another synthetic designer drug).

The wild and inconsistent composition of Mojo and similar products makes them dangerous. They may produce unpredictable effects as you won’t know the exact chemicals contained in them.2,11

Why Was Synthetic Marijuana Made?

Production of smokable synthetic cannabis products started around 2004 as legal alternatives to natural marijuana. They were first sold in European countries around 2005 before becoming available in the U.S. in 2008.

Synthetic marijuana gained popularity and continued use because:

  • They produce a more intense high than natural marijuana but at a lower price.
  • They’re easier and more accessible in terms of production as they aren’t grown like natural cannabis.
  • Manufacturers and sellers promote Mojo and other synthetic cannabinoid products as a legal and safer alternative to marijuana (which is not true).
  • They are often labeled as "not for human consumption," “incense,” or “for aromatherapy use only” to avoid liability.

Manufacturers and sellers promoted Mojo, K2, or Spice as a "safer" alternative to marijuana. However, due to the inconsistent composition and unpredictable effects, synthetic marijuana is unsafe. The effects are more serious than actual marijuana.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

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How is Mojo Used?

Mojo and similar products typically appear as a dried, leafy substance identical in appearance to products derived from the cannabis plant.

In its original powder form, synthetic cannabinoids are dissolved in solvents (acetone or ethanol) and sprayed onto plant material (like tea leaves) to look like natural marijuana. 

These coated leaves can be:1,2,5,6,7,12 

  • Smoked (this is the typical way) 
  • Mixed with real marijuana
  • Mixed into a liquid and vaped in e-cigarettes
  • Brewed
  • Added to food or beverages

What Makes Mojo a Harmful Drug?

In 2020, 14,978 cases involving synthetic marijuana were reported, with these four synthetic cannabinoids as the most identified:

  • MDMB-4en-PINACA (30%)
  • 5F-MDMBPICA (19%)
  • fluoro-MDMB-PICA (10%)
  • 4F-MDMBBUTINACA (7%)

Mojo and other synthetic cannabinoid products are unsafe for various reasons:1,2,4,5,6,12

1. Misleading Marketing

Marketing Mojo as a "legal" or "safe" alternative to marijuana can deceive users into underestimating its risks.

Manufacturers usually market Mojo and similar products as containing natural material. However, the only natural parts here are the dried plant materials. They artificially synthesize the cannabinoid components.

2. Inconsistent Composition

The number of synthetic cannabinoids Mojo has may vary. This means two packets of the same branded product may have completely different components. The amount of chemicals sprayed and coated on plant materials can also be inconsistent between batches.

Mojo and similar synthetic drugs may contain other substances, contaminants, or toxic chemicals (like synthetic cathinone, another synthetic designer drug).

3. Unpredictable Effects 

Due to the inconsistency of Mojo’s composition, the effects are unpredictable. Sometimes, these products can produce side effects that are stronger or more serious than natural marijuana.

As the amount of cannabinoids is usually higher in synthetic marijuana, people tend to experience addiction, withdrawal, or overdose more than when using natural marijuana.

4. Widespread Availability

Mojo and similar synthetic cannabinoid products are often readily available in convenience stores, smoke shops, and online markets. This makes them easily accessible to a broad range of people.

5. Lack of Regulation

The lack of regulatory oversight means Mojo’s production and sales are not subject to quality control. This makes it even riskier for consumers. Considering the lack of federal approval for marijuana, this caveat equally applies to products containing other THC compounds.

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What are the Side Effects of Mojo?

People who use Mojo experience marijuana-like effects, like elevated mood and relaxation.12 However, the downside is that the consequences may be more severe and unpredictable.

Some side effects of using Mojo and other synthetic cannabinoid products include:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,11,12

  • Severe agitation
  • Irritability
  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (persistent vomiting)
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Tachycardia (racing heartbeat)
  • Tachyarrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Kidney damage
  • Heart attacks
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Intense hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Delusions
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory changes
  • Severe paranoia
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Violent behavior
  • Unconsciousness
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Seizures
  • Tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Drug dependence
  • Overdose deaths

Continued use of synthetic or non-synthetic drugs can be a risk factor of substance use disorder (SUD). Unless this is treated, long-term use can lead to an increased risk of withdrawal symptoms and overdose.

What Are the Overdose Symptoms of Mojo?

Similar to natural marijuana, Mojo also comes with a risk of overdosing. It can cause the following overdose symptoms:1,2,11,12

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Severe anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Breathing problems
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Toxic reactions
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Stroke
  • Reduced blood supply to the heart
  • Seizures
  • Heart attacks
  • Kidney damage
  • Coma
  • Death by heart attack or organ failure 

If you or someone you know becomes sick after using synthetic marijuana, immediately seek medical attention. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Is Mojo More Dangerous Than Other Synthetic Drugs?

Mojo and similar cannabinoid products are as dangerous as other synthetic designer drugs. They’re collectively called “new psychoactive substances” (NPS). These unregulated, mind-altering drugs have entered the market as a “safer” alternative to illegal drugs that they’re emulating.6,12

Aside from synthetic marijuana, two other prevalent NPS are synthetic phenethylamines and synthetic cathinones.6,12,14

Synthetic Phenethylamines

Synthetic phenethylamines mimic hallucinogens. They’re usually known as N-bomb and Smiles. Even a tiny amount may be enough to cause symptoms like:

  • Seizures
  • Cardiac death
  • Respiratory arrest

Synthetic Cathinones

Synthetic cathinones produce effects similar to methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA. They are branded as Flakka and Gravel and sold as "bath salts."

Like synthetic cannabis, they are sold online and in various shops. The use of synthetic cathinone can lead to adverse health effects, including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Seizures
  • Chest pains
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Violent outbursts
  • Overdose deaths

There are over 300 NPS, with synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones as the most prevalent. The DEA has warned the public about the dangers of these novel drugs.

Summary

Mojo, also known as K2, Spice, or synthetic marijuana, is designed to mimic the effects of natural marijuana. However, its composition, misleading marketing, and severe side effects potentially make it a harmful and unpredictable substance.

Mojo’s drug makeup can vary widely between batches, leading to unpredictable effects. People may experience more severe symptoms than natural marijuana, including extreme anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, and even life-threatening conditions like heart attacks, seizures, or death.

While synthetic cannabinoids and similar THC products are more widespread today, their legality and risks are just as dangerous as natural marijuana derivatives. If you or someone you know is struggling with Mojo addiction, seeking professional substance abuse treatment and support is essential to overcome this addictive drug.

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Updated on February 6, 2024
16 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
  1. Synthetic cannabinoids: What are they? What are their effects?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2022.
  2. About synthetic cannabinoids.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2021.
  3. Synthetic Cannabinoids: An Overview for Healthcare Providers.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2022.
  4. Seely et al. “Spice drugs are more than harmless herbal blends: a review of the pharmacology and toxicology of synthetic cannabinoids.” Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, National Library of Medicine, 2012.
  5. National Forensic Laboratory Information System: NFLIS-Drug 2020 Annual Report.” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 2021.
  6. About Synthetic Drugs.” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
  7. Synthetic Cannabinoids: Illicit mix of herbs/toxins often marketed as a "legal" alternative to cannabis. SCs can pose serious health effects.” New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports.
  8. Synthetic cannabinoids.” UNODC Laboratory and Scientific Service Portals.
  9. Rules And Regulations Pertaining To Synthetic Marijuana Products.” Arkansas State Board of Health, 2010.
  10. Ng et al. “Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).” StatPearls Publishing, National Library of Medicine, 2023.
  11. K2/Spice.” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 2022.
  12. Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2/Spice) DrugFacts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 2020.
  13. Synthetic Drugs (a.k.a. K2, Spice, Bath Salts, etc.).” Office of National Drug Control Policy.
  14. Drug Scheduling.” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
  15. Schedules of Controlled Substances: Temporary Placement of MDMB-4en-PINACA, 4F-MDMB-BUTICA, ADB-4en-PINACA, CUMYL-PEGACLONE, 5F-EDMB-PICA, and MMB-FUBICA in Schedule I.” Federal Register, 2023.
  16. Gov. Jindal and State Officials Ban New Synthetic Marijuana Compound.” Louisiana Department of Health, 2014.

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