Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Drug Enforcement Administration bans synthetic marijuana products including “Spice”, “K2”, “Blaze”, and “Red X Dawn”

So, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been regulating tobacco products for a number of months now and recently banned the sale of caffeinated alcoholic beverages.  This past week, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) placed temporary controls, effectively, a 1-year ban, on possession or distribution of synthetic marijuana, also known as “fake pot”.  The ban will allow a period of study to determine whether these fake pot products should be permanently controlled as Schedule I drugs.

These and other synthetic marijuana products already are banned in a number of European countries.

Synthetic marijuana is produced by spraying herb blends to be smoked with one or more of the following chemical substances, JWH-018 or analogs JWH-073 or JWH-200, or CP-47,497 or analog cannabicyclohexanol.

The JWH series of compounds were initially synthesized for research purposes by medicinal chemist John W. Huffman.

Together with Billy Martin and colleagues, Dr. Huffman published a pharmacology study in Drug and Alcohol Dependence showing that JWH-018 and JWH-073 have high affinity at cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors, and are several times more potent at binding to these receptors than the primary active ingredient in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Compound CP-47,497 is another synthetic cannabinoid synthesized originally by Pfizer.

National Public Radio recently interviewed Dr. Huffman who characterized the products containing these compounds as being “…pretty toxic.”

The American Association of Poison Control Centers issued 3 press releases this year in July, October, and November, reporting alarmingly high numbers of calls to Poison Control Centers related to these products (see Figure), particularly when compared to the small numbers of calls received in prior years.

In his NPR interview, Dr. Huffman pointed out that there are many other synthetic THC analogs with similar effects, some of which are many times more potent than THC.  Thus, more products like the banned substances likely will emerge pretty quickly and may need to be studied and possibly regulated.

At the CPDD Annual meeting held in June, Boos and colleagues from the DEA reported finding synthetic cannabinoids more frequently of late in seized products (Abstract 59, 2010 Abstract Book PDF page 15, downloadable at  Their abstract indicated that since 2000, 5 designer drugs have been added to the controlled substances act.  That number could be quickly doubled if the 5 synthetic cannabinoids under discussion also are added, and could grow even further and very quickly if other synthetic cannabinoids are added.

CPDDBLOG welcomes CPDD member’s thoughts on this issue. 

1 comment:

  1. Addiction Inbox posted that the DEA is making these substances illegal and posting them as Schedule I drugs as of March 1, 2011:


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