Often used as a cheaper alternative to weed, synthetic marijuana is seriously harmful to your health, according to a new review published in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences. Researchers from the University of Arkansas warn against using synthetic cannabinoids (SCBs), which are falsely marketed as a safe alternative to marijuana and often sold under the names Spice or K2.

SCBs are actually man-made psychotropic chemicals sprayed onto plants to emulate natural marijuana. Paul Prather, Ph.D and leading author of the review, examines already-existing research to show that synthetic marijuana is not in fact an alternative, and is an entirely different drug with its own set of effects, according to a news release.

Read: Effects Of Smoking Marijuana On The Human Brain: Drug Reduces Blood Flow To Hippocampus, Increasing Alzheimer's Disease Risk

Synthetics create a high by activating the same cannabinoid receptor as marijuana, but to a much greater degree than the THC in weed. Not only that, but the drug’s chemical composition is vastly different and much more toxic. Prather believes it’s these differences that cause the dangerous health effects, like seizure and death, not associated with marijuana use.

More than 3,500 calls related to synthetic cannabinoid use were reported to poison control centers from January to May 2015, reports Newsweek, which is a 229 percent increase from the same time in 2014. According to the United States Government’s Drug Abuse Warning Network, synthetic cannabinoids resulted in 28,531 emergency room visits in 2011, which is still lower than the 455,668 trips due to marijuana. The difference in ER visits could be related to the total number of people who are using each drug.

Read: When Medical Marijuana Is Difficult To Access, 'Street Pharmacists' Are Some Patients' Only Hope

However, Prather thinks a man-made marijuana could be a good alternative to the real thing for therapeutic uses.

“We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” he says in a statement. “It’s a matter of separating the good from the bad, and it will take a lot of research to find a safe, effective synthetic cannabinoid.”

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