Welcome to readers arriving from Reddit – scroll down through the post for links to our more detailed discussions on cannabimimetics. (updated 8 October)
Recent media coverage of our writings on the chemistry, pharmacology, public health risks, and regulation of synthetic marijuana herbal incense products has led us to put together a compilation of posts we’ve written here on the topic over the last year-and-a-half.
Synthetic marijuana is a term used to describe a collection of herbal products labeled as incense or potpourri to which one or more marijuana-like chemicals have been added. Unlike with the naturally-occurring marijuana or cannabis plant, Cannabis sativa, these herbal products contain chemicals made in the laboratory. These chemicals, called cannabimimetics for their ability to mimic the effects of cannabis, are potentially more powerful than the chemicals made by the marijuana plant. Their side effects have led to a surge in emergency room visits and poison control center reports.
Many of these chemicals were first made in 1990s in the laboratory of Professor John W. Huffman, a now-retired chemistry professor at Clemson University for the purpose of identifying the parts of a molecule responsible for the psychotropic effects of marijuana. These research tools were referred to by the prefix “JWH-” followed by a number (e.g., JWH-018) and recreational chemists in Europe began making and selling these agents around 2004, mixed with legal aromatic herbs and sold predominantly by the name “Spice.” Now illegal in most of Europe, Scandanavia, and the former Soviet republics, these compounds began to be sold in the US over the last three years. A similar wave of prohibition is now occurring across the US and the federal drug regulatory agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), has temporarily moved five cannabimimetics to the most restrictive class of controlled substances, Schedule I.
The following list is a compilation of our writing on the topic here at Terra Sigillata.
- First appearing in February 2009, this is our classic, first-stop post explaining the background on these products and the compounds they contain.
- This post from March 2011 describes how the US DEA prohibition on five synthetic cannabimimetics is already being circumvented by creative marketers.
- This January 2011 post discusses a Charlotte, NC, NPR interview with Professor Huffman from his home in western North Carolina.
- This pair of February 2011 posts provide uses my local North Carolina examples of state legislation being enacted to criminalize synthetic cannabimimetics and unrelated “bath salt” compounds containing unrelated drugs such as mephedrone and MDPV.
- This post compares and contrasts 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC, mephedrone) with synthetic marijuana, pointing specifically at these two posts by my neuropharmacology colleague who writes under the name DrugMonkey.
- This post from July 2011 details The Today Show appearance by the mother of a northern Illinois high school graduate who died under the influence of iAroma-brand of synthetic marijuana after crashing his car into a house.
- This February 2011 post points the reader toward an excellent primer for health care professionals written by clinical pharmacists at the University of Texas at Austin as well as coverage of our writing by TIME HealthLand writer, Maia Szalavitz.
- Finally, these two posts are for new readers who may wish to learn more about Dr. Kroll as well as where the idea came from for the name of the blog.
If you have any links that you wish to add to this list from other writers, please feel free to drop a link in the comment below. If you leave more than one link your comments with be referred to my moderation queue but I will approve it the next time I log in.
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