There is a debate among some people over whether or not positive test results for synthetic marijuana should result in a suspension or if it should result in a fine for WWE superstars who test positive.
This is a hot-button topic because of the legality of the product. While many places have made sale of the synthetic substances illegal altogether, other places are only banning specific ingredients, which allows the companies producing the products to use new ingredients.
Two superstars from WWE are currently on suspension for testing positive for the substance. On Nov. 1, Evan Bourne was suspended for violating the WWE Talent Wellness Program, and an identical 30-day suspension of R-Truth followed on Nov. 22. Shortly after, wrestlinginc.com reported that R-Truth and Bourne had both used a synthetic form of marijuana called Spice at a party, but R-Truth was initially fined and not suspended because he had tested positive for regular marijuana.
Each man received a 30-day suspension for a first violation. The second violation results in a 60-day suspension, while a third results in being released.
The suspensions of these two superstars sends a message to the rest of the roster that WWE is not messing around with their recent changes to the wellness policy.
Bourne is one half of the tag team champions with Kofi Kingston, while R-Truth was involved with Miz in the Survivor Series main event.
Some people say that because the substance is still legal in many areas that WWE should not even be allowed to test for it or punish those caught using it.
The people on the other side of the argument think that the current punishment being more severe than testing positive for real marijuana is the best way to deal with it.
Many superstars were said to have switched from smoking real marijuana to smoking the synthetic substances in order to beat the $2,500 fine levied by testing for the real thing.
The biggest problem with the controversy is that it is still largely unclear as to what is being used in these synthetic products.
What we do know is labs develop synthetic cannabanoids that are applied to the leaves in order to create a similar effect to smoking real marijuana.
Different people react differently to these substances, which is why they are so controversial. While some people find them to be almost completely similar to the real thing, others experience a far stronger effect than they do when smoking real marijuana.
One of the major news stories to hit the airwaves regarding the subject involved a 19-year-old Illinois man named Max Dobner who, after smoking the substance, crashed his car into a house and died.
CBS News reported that Dobner had called his brother prior to the incident and told him he had smoked a product called "potpourri" and sounded like he was panicking.
They also reported that Dobner's friend had taken a similar product called iAroma. He said that the experience was terrifying and that smoking it caused him to have blackouts and seizures.
This is not the only incident to draw the ire of the public, as other teens have been showing up in emergency rooms for months with symptoms resulting in their use of this product, or the mixture of synthetic marijuana with other substances.
Another story which has caught national attention is the death of 13-year-old Brandon Rice. Rice smoked the product sold under the name "K2."
Shortly afterward he began to feel nausea, had a full body rash and lung problems. It was revealed through tests that the substance had caused him to receive a chemical burn in his lungs.
This resulted in Brandon having a double lung transplant. Unfortunately Brandon died a few weeks after the surgery. His parents have since become advocates for the banning of these substances.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is leading the charge in Pennsylvania, where Rice resided, to ban the substance from being sold to anyone.
With all these incidents being tied to synthetic marijuana, many people in other states are starting to fight for the same thing as Sen. Casey.
I live in Illinois, where the substances are only illegal in certain cities that have banned them, but there are still some areas where you can find these products in multiple shops.
Currently Chicago Aldermen are trying to ban the substance in the city due to the fact that the statewide ban on a specific drug used on these products only forced the manufacturers to use different drugs.
When you look at all the incidents tied to the substances, it is hard to ignore the facts. These products are dangerous—probably more so than real marijuana in some cases, depending on what is used to make it.
WWE's current policy on synthetic marijuana is in place to help keep the wrestlers off the dangerous substance, and the only way to ensure that is to treat it the same way they treat steroids and other hard drugs.
I personally agree with WWE's policy, especially after doing all the research that went into writing this article and learning what has happened to those who have used it.
WWE superstars are likely starting to switch back to using real marijuana in order to only get fined instead of suspended, but there have been past rumors that people have had their pushes interrupted by testing positive.
With more and more states putting bans on the products, I cannot see WWE changing their position anytime soon.
What do you think—should the punishment for smoking synthetic marijuana be less, the same or more than smoking real marijuana?
Lastly, I would like to send my thoughts out to any of the families of people who have died as a result of these products. If anything positive can come of these incidents, it is that these substances will be banned and others can be saved from suffering the same fates.