Synthetic Cannabinoid Research Chemicals:
(This is a partial list of the synthetic cannabinoids that have been used illicitly or may have potential for illicit use in the future.)
- CP 47,497
- CP 55,244
- CP 55,940
- WIN 55,212-2
- BAY 38-7271
Products that Contain (or Have Contained at One Time) Synthetic Cannabinoids:
(It should be noted that the speed of innovation in this area means that any list of products is likely to become quickly outdated.)
- Spice Smoke Blend
- Yucatan Fire
- Highdi’s Almdröhner
- Earth Impact
- Galaxy Gold
- Space Truckin
- Solar Flare
- Moon Rocks
- Blue Lotus
Medications Containing Synthetic Cannabinoids:
About Synthetic Cannabinoids
Synthetic cannabinoids are functionally similar to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active principle of cannabis. Like THC, they bind to the same cannabinoid receptors in the brain and other organs as the endogenous ligand anandamide. In late 2008, several cannabinoids were detected in herbal smoking mixtures or incense. They do not contain tobacco or cannabis but when smoked, produce effects similar to those of cannabis (EMCDDA, 2013).
Although often referred to simply as synthetic cannabinoids, many of the substances are not structurally related to the so-called ‘classical’ cannabinoids, i.e. compounds, like THC, based on dibenzopyran. The cannabinoid receptor agonists form a diverse group, but most are lipid soluble and non-polar, and consist of 22 to 26 carbon atoms; they would therefore be expected to volatilize readily when smoked. The synthetic cannabinoids fall into seven major structural groups:
- Naphthoylindoles (e.g. JWH-018, JWH-073 and JWH-398).
- Phenylacetylindoles (i.e. benzoylindoles, e.g. JWH-250).
- Cyclohexylphenols (e.g. CP 47,497 and homologues of CP 47,497).
- Classical cannabinoids (e.g. HU-210).
Other cannabinoid receptor agonists include substances such as oleamide — an endogenous substance that is also used in plastics manufacture — and methanandamide, both of which are structurally related to anandamide. However, the cannabinoid activity of these has been questioned. It is thought that neither methanandamide nor other arachidonyl derivatives related to anandamide would be sufficiently volatile to be smoked. Certain fluorosulfonates exhibit agonist activity at cannabinoid receptors, as does naphthalen-1-yl-(4-pentyloxynaphthalen-1-yl)methanone, but the latter appears not to be psychoactive, at least when administered orally (EMCDDA, 2013).
The reported adverse effects of synthetic cannabinoid products include agitation, seizures, hypertension, emesis (vomiting) and hypokalemia (low potassium levels). Although many of these are similar to symptoms observed after a high dose of cannabis, researchers have concluded that ‘legal highs’ containing synthetic cannabinoids are potentially more harmful than cannabis. In addition, there is some evidence to suggest that synthetic cannabinoids can be associated with psychiatric symptoms, including psychosis. There are also investigations underway in the US regarding links between the use of synthetic cannabinoid products and acute kidney injury (EMCDDA, 2013).