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One of the other writers for this site used to be a chemist specializing in herbal medicines. He tells me that he was approached by a chemist in Austria about 25 years ago who wanted legal advice. Would there be criminal penalties, the budding (pardon the pun) Viennese chemist wanted to know, to synthesize designer chemicals based on chemicals in marijuana and sell them in the USA? This other Steady Health writer sensed that there might be more than one way to get into serious legal trouble and since he was a chemist, not a lawyer, referred him to a licensed attorney. The lawyer wanted too much money for legal advice and the Austrian chemist gave up the idea, so my Steady Health colleague thought.

However, in 2002, synthetic marijuana chemicals started showing up in Austria and Germany, and it wasn't because the Austrian chemist had finally synthesized it. Actually, a now 83-year-old chemist in South Carolina had synthesized 450 marijuana compounds with funding from the US government itself, and the Austrian chemist had simply read the journal articles and duplicated the manufacturing process. Some of these chemicals have shown up in the products K2 and Spice. Two of the chemicals, JWH-018 and JWH-073 (named after the American chemist who first made them, John W. Huffman) are synthesized and sprayed on dried herbs imported from India and China and used to make Legal Bud.

It isn't the herbs that make you high. It's the chemicals. But because these chemicals are not covered by US federal drug laws, the products are legal. In fact, they are more potent than illegal marijuana, up to 800 times more potent, and often (although not always) more expensive, up to 8 times more expensive.

These chemicals aren't legal everywhere in the USA. They are already illegal in Kansas, and they will soon be illegal in Illinois. Another chemical that until recently could be used to make "legal" marijuana substitutes, called HU-210, is very much on the radar of police departments all over the country. Buying herbs treated with HU-210 actually could get you into criminal trouble.

There's no danger of your lungs collapsing, of your losing your mind, or of having a stroke or a heart attack just from using these products. Those things can happen, but it won't be the Legal Bud that caused them. On the other hand, all the usual precautions with the use of marijuana apply. Smoking, whether it's smoke from tobacco or smoke from pot or smoke from the fireplace, is not good for your lungs in excess. Anything that tobacco smoke can do, smoking herbs can do. The difference is most people smoke "herbs" a lot less.

Legal Bud does cause altered mental status. That's the whole point in using it. If you have to avoid certain situations and responsibilities when you smoke pot, you also need to avoid them when you smoke Legal Bud. You might not crash your car into a ravine, but you might get a ticket for driving too slow and then the officer might have some interesting questions that take a very long time to answer.

Finally, the legality of Legal Bud is not fixed. Although there are hundreds of compounds that can be synthesized, your dealer will have to stay one step ahead of state laws. If your dealer doesn't, you are the one who has the criminal liability. Right now, very few states have laws on the books that regulate legal weed, but state legislatures pursue this sort of thing energetically. It's better to buy from a dealer you can trust that it is to buy online. If a product is marked "not for sale in the United States," assume it really isn't, and take appropriate precautions.

Legal Bud can be good sh*T. It's potent. It's borderline legal at most. Use sparingly and in safe settings.


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