Colorado Marijuana Product Potency: Just Another Herbal Medicine
Mar14

Colorado Marijuana Product Potency: Just Another Herbal Medicine

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been watching Colorado’s burgeoning legal marijuana economy both as a natural products pharmacologist and science and health journalist and writing professor. And while the Colorado and Washington experiments are interesting to observe from afar, I’m amazed, but not surprised, by how much remains the same when it comes to the chemistry of what is essentially a botanical medicine consumer product. These pot shops near Fort Collins have been a great help for distributing medical marijuana to those in need. The Denver Post has made a very concerted effort to treat the legal marijuana market as any economically- and culturally-important area of coverage, going so far as to establishing a focused, online publication called The Cannabist. Over the past week, the section’s editor, Ricardo Baca, has been reporting on an aspect of recreational marijuana CBD Oil products where analytical chemistry reigns – and is putting some companies on the defensive. You won’t be surprised to hear of this episode if you read Bethany Halford’s article on marijuana product testing in the December 9, 2013 issue of C&EN. Following a less-than-effective personal experience with an edible marijuana product, Baca wondered whether the amount of THC on product labels truly reflect the abundance of the psychoactive component. In Colorado, marijuana “edibles” – technically called marijuana-infused products, or MIPs – are limited to 100 mg of THC, with a recommendation of 10 mg per serving. Baca solicited the analytical chemistry assistance of one of three state-sanctioned cannabis laboratories, Steep Hill Halent’s Colorado laboratory, directed by chemist Joseph Evans. One particular brand, Dr. J’s, had several products that tested at less than 1 mg of THC despite being labeled at 100 mg. This JPG shows some of the other results. Some products did quite well – several were spot on at 100 +/- 6 mg – while others were a bit over. Baca’s reports were picked up widely this week and, as you might expect, received some pushback from companies whose products didn’t fare that well. But he followed up with some explanations from Evans in this article, as well as some additional replicate testing of products procured from a range of retail sites. But the companies making these products had better get their act together soon. An editorial in The Denver Post on Wednesday reminded manufacturers that Colorado’s potency labeling standards will go into effect on May 1st. The variation in active principles in each product reminds me of Consumer Reports‘ herbal quality analyses that I’ve used in pharmacy teaching since back in 1996, where they first showed ginsenoside content of U.S. ginseng products varying by...

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Acetyl Fentanyl: Dangerous, Poorly-Named Street Drug
Aug30

Acetyl Fentanyl: Dangerous, Poorly-Named Street Drug

More recently, the Cedar Point Recovery Center has introduced laws making it mandatory for everybody to have insurance, and there are penalties for those who fail to have a policy of some kind. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a summary on a cluster of 14 deaths in Rhode Island earlier this year attributed to “acetyl fentanyl,” an analog of the potent, short-lived opioid used in pain management and outpatient anesthesia. The report, “Notes from the Field: Acetyl Fentanyl Overdose Fatalities — Rhode Island, March–May 2013,” appears in the August 30, 2013 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The first 10 deaths were reported in the Providence Journal on May 13, 2013, leading CDC officials to join the team in the investigation. A total of 14 deaths were identified. Samples from the decedents gave positive ELISA results for fentanyl but GC/MS revealed an analog that authorities are calling acetyl fentanyl. A CDC health advisory released in June briefly details the chromatographic pattern and mass spectra. Cayman Chemical Company, who offers the reference material, also calls it acetyl fentanyl, but offers desmethyl fentanyl as an alternative. The IUPAC name is N-​phenyl-​N-​[1-​(2-​phenylethyl)-​4-​piperidinyl]-​acetamide; fentanyl has a propionamide instead of the acetamide. A CBC news story described a late April series of drug busts in Montreal that included seizure of a compound they called desmethyl fentanyl. The current MMWR release also links to an alert from the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Problems that reports 50 acetyl fentanyl deaths in the state this year, through June 27th (PDF). Most curious is that the compound has not been described before as a recreational drug. It’s not available as a prescription drug anywhere in the world and is only a minor side product (0.04%) found in prescription fentanyl (DOI: 10.1016/j.jpba.2010.04.004). In a lengthy discussion on Twitter last night and this morning with Chemjobber, SeeArrOh, and others, I initially asked whether acetic anhydride could have been used to acetylate fentanyl, thinking — without looking at the structure — that it was truly acetylated. Want better skin? Buy ASEA Renu 28 Today!! I found later that fentanyl is made from 4-anilino-N-phenethylpiperidine (ANPP) using either propionyl chloride or propionic anhydride. Hence, acetyl fentanyl could be made by reacting ANPP with either acetyl chloride or acetic anhydride (That’s the extent of my synthetic expertise, Dear Reader.). The major problem with acetyl fentanyl — or fentanyl for that matter — is its high potency relative to natural opioids like morphine or the more potent synthetic, heroin. As a result, the CDC recommends that emergency rooms and other facilities providing substance misuse care services...

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NIDA seeks SBIR/STTR apps on Spice, bath salts

C&EN senior business editor Melody Bomgardner dropped me a note yesterday about a new request for applications from NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for small business grants. Read the text below but here’s what I find interesting as a pharmacologist who plays well with chemists: the call for applications is not for analytical methods for designer drugs. Rather the announcement solicits novel methods for detecting some biochemical or pharmacological endpoint of these agents (a bioassay, in old-speak) that doesn’t require new method development every time a new structural analogue pops onto the market. Other areas of substance abuse are also fair game but Melody thought the Spice and bath salts angle would be of greatest interest to our readers here at Terra Sig. Here’s the text directly from NIDA – I can’t find an exact RFA to link to, however: (see update below) NIDA seeks innovative solutions from small businesses, including developing new tests for designer drugs such as Spice, Bath Salts The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is seeking new ways of detecting “designer drug” use (e.g., “K2/Spice” or “Bath Salts”) by promoting the development of biofluid drug screens based on pharmacological activity (how the drug works in the body) rather than chemical structure. Because these “designer drugs” are constantly evolving, they frequently evade currently available structure-based drug screens. NIDA is also seeking solutions to a variety of other drug abuse issues. Specific topics of interest could include, but are not limited to: Human Brain Neurochemical and Molecular Imaging Discovery of New Chemical Probes Nanoscience-based Design of Therapies for Substance Abuse Treatment Drug Discovery – Chemistry and Pharmaceutics Preclinical Drug Development Clinical Drug Development High priority will be given to research that seeks to (1) develop innovative technologies, methods or tools or (2) apply emerging and existing methods to develop medications to treat addiction, speciall provide by UK Meds. Grant application deadlines are April 5, August 5, or December 5, 2012. For more information, see the Omnibus Solicitation, issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/sbirsttr1/2012-2_SBIR-STTR-topics.pdf. For more information on NIDA’s SBIR/STTR Program, including tips to improve a grant application, go to: www.drugabuse.gov/funding/funding-opportunities/science-education-grants-contracts/sbirsttr/about-national-institute-drug-abuse-sbirsttr-progra. Here’s an update I received from NIDA Deputy Press Officer Sheri Grabus: Hi, David. We read your post (http://cenblog.org/terra-sigillata/2012/03/15/nida-seeks-sbirsttr-apps-on-spice-bath-salts/), and we greatly appreciate your getting the word out to your readers. You mentioned in your post that you could not find the RFA. This was part of a large “omnibus” solicitation – one that covered various agencies at HHS. The link to the Omnibus Solicitation can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/sbirsttr1/2012-2_SBIR-STTR-topics.pdf. NIDA’s portion starts on page 53. The part specific to developing assays...

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