Was Demi Moore smoking synthetic marijuana?
Jan28

Was Demi Moore smoking synthetic marijuana?

My substance abuser writer and researcher friend DrugMonkey (@drugmonkeyblog) just tweeted a CNN story suggesting that actress Demi Moore may have suffered adverse reactions after smoking a synthetic cannabimimetic product: A woman called 911 soliciting help for actress Demi Moore, whom she said was "convulsing" and "burning up" after "smoking something," according to a recording of the call obtained Friday from the Los Angeles Fire Department. [. . .] "She smoked something -- it's not marijuana, but it's similar to incense. And she seems to be having convulsions of some sort." Reports of tremors and seizures have been accumulating in association with synthetic marijuana products. These products are generally composed of an herbal material that is spiked with one or more synthetic compounds that act at cannabinoid CB1 receptors. The "burning up" described by the 911 caller in the story would be consistent with some reports of serotonin-like syndrome associated with synthetic marijuana use. The US Drug Enforcement Agency is currently regulating some of the psychoactive compounds as Schedule I substances, illegal for use or sale as they are deemed as having no medical value. Individual states have also issued bans on compounds containing even more related compounds in these products. However, marketers have been skirting laws by using compounds not expressly deemed illegal in state or federal statutes. Moreover, analytical crime laboratories across the nation have suffered extensive budget cuts making it difficult to keep up with the demands in determinig which products are illicit. On a personal note, the synthetic marijuana story that DrugMonkey, dr_leigh, and I have been writing about for two years is growing increasingly disturbing. I just received my second reader email in three months from a father whose son shot himself to death while allegedly addicted to synthetic marijuana products. We've been in touch with the US DEA to inquire as to whether similar cases are currently under investigation. Just as DrugMonkey wrote awhile back (I have to find the post), adverse drug effects with celebrities are usually required before aggressive government action is taken against illicit drugs (death of University of Maryland basketball player Len Bias from cocaine and a congenital cardiac...

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Drugs of Abuse Tag-Team at Skeptically Speaking
Dec20

Drugs of Abuse Tag-Team at Skeptically Speaking

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Canadian radio host Desiree Schell for her wildly-successful show, Skeptically Speaking. The episode on which yours truly appears can be accessed here. Launched in March 2009, the show airs live on Sunday evenings at 6 pm Mountain Time on UStream where one can discuss the show and asks questions by live chat. The show also includes a previously recorded segment with another scientist and is then edited and distributed for rebroadcast to stations and networks across North America. The shorter pre-recorded segment where I appeared to speak about my most popular topic of the last two years on this blog, synthetic marijuana compounds. I'm not entirely guilty of self-promotion here because I primarily wanted to mention that the first two-thirds of the show - the live part - was an interview with my neuropharmacologist friend, Scicurious, author of The Scicurious Brain blog at the Scientific American blog network and Neurotic Physiology at Scientopia. Sci has a gift for offering laser-sharp science in a hip, conversational manner. Here's how the Skeptically Speaking team describes the show: With humour, enthusiasm and a lot of curiosity, Skeptically Speaking guides you through the fascinating world of science and critical thinking. We interview researchers, authors and experts to help listeners understand the evidence, arguments and science behind what’s in the news and on the shelves. A basic understanding of science, combined with a little bit of skepticism, goes a long way. Note: The term “skepticism” may be new to you. If that’s the case, click here. During her 40 minutes Sci gave a terrific primer on the classes of drugs commonly used, and abused, recreationally. My pre-recorded part was edited into the now-available podcast (Show #142, 27.5 MB) at around 41:10. But do download it and listen entirely to Sci's part. Our segments ended up being quite complementary owing to the careful eyes and ears of host Desiree Schell and producer/editor K.O. Myers. Although I know Sci, I hadn't known that she was to appear live until after my recording. I rarely like listening to my own voice (unlike many professors) but this one is a keeper primarily because it's more for the general public rather than just us scientists. In fact, Des tells me that she interviews from the standpoint of the listener she envisions driving home in their car. And for those of you attending ScienceOnline2012 here in North Carolina next month, you'll get to meet Schell and hear her lead a morning session on Friday 20 January with Julia Galef of Rationally Speaking on the pros and cons of science podcasting. Go to this...

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K2 Synthetic Marijuana: Heart Attacks, Suicides, and Surveillance
Nov14

K2 Synthetic Marijuana: Heart Attacks, Suicides, and Surveillance

Sixteen-year-old boys having heart attacks. Blog reports of deaths and suicides. And a little known chemistry and public health resource mobilized to identify "legal highs." The chemical and biological phenomenon that is "synthetic marijuana" continued to develop over the last week as we learn more about these products from the medical and public health communities. Most notably, pediatric cardiologists reported in the journal Pediatrics on three cases of Texas teenagers who experienced myocardial infarctions - heart attacks - after using a synthetic marijuana product (DOI: 10.1542/peds.2010-3823). (Many thanks to Dr. Ivan Oransky, Executive Editor at Reuters Health, for providing us with primary information after their own excellent report by Frederik Joelving). Brief background Sold under names like K2 or Spice as "incense" or "potpourri" and labeled as "not intended for human consumption," these products are laced with one or more synthetic psychoactive compounds that were published in 1990s work studying structure-activity relationships on cannabinoid receptors. The vast majority of the synthetic work was done in the laboratory of Dr. John W. Huffman, now professor emeritus of the Department of Chemistry at Clemson University, with his compounds know by "JWH-" nomenclature. The US Drug Enforcement Agency secured emergency prohibition of five of these compounds late last year, spurring "legal highs" manufacturers to reformulate second-generation Spice products containing related compounds not explicitly designated as illegal. Although the DEA does have the authority to prosecute sale and possession of these analogs, such action is rare. To learn more, we've put together a compilation of our synthetic marijuana posts for the reader's further reference. Adolescent heart attacks In this week's advance Pediatrics publication, the three cases - all in 16-year-old boys - were seen at the UT-Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas within three months of one another. The common presentation was a 3- to 7-day history of chest pain with myocardial infarction confirmed by electrocardiographic and biochemical endpoints (ST elevation in the inferolateral leads and substantial increases in cardiac troponin-I released into the bloodstream). As you might predict, heart attacks are extremely rare in otherwise healthy 16-year-olds. But marijuana itself is known to cause cardiac effects, with rare cases of myocardial infarction. In the discussion of the Pediatrics report, Dr. Arshid Mir and colleagues describe literature extending back to 1979 (DOI: 10.3109/15563657909010604) on the increased risk of cardiac disturbances, including myocardial infarction, within the first hour of marijuana use. Increased heart rate is a well-recognized effect of marijuana that is mediated by increased sympathetic nervous system outflow to the heart. This 1976 paper in Circulation describes how the majority of this tachycardia can be prevented by premedication with the non-selective beta-blocker, propranolol. But what about...

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Compilation of synthetic marijuana posts (Spice, K2)
Oct02

Compilation of synthetic marijuana posts (Spice, K2)

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.   What’s the buzz?: Synthetic marijuana, K2, Spice, JWH-018 First appearing in February 2009, this is our classic, first-stop post explaining the background on these products and the compounds they contain. DEA already admits defeat on synthetic marijuana ban? This post from March 2011 describes how the US DEA prohibition on five synthetic cannabimimetics is already being circumvented by creative marketers. “Synthetic marijuana” chemist John W. Huffman interviewed on regional NPR program This January 2011 post discusses a Charlotte, NC, NPR interview with Professor Huffman from his home in western North Carolina. Strong chemistry in NC bills banning legal highs NC legislators aim to clean up “bath salt” omission This pair of February 2011 posts provide uses my local North Carolina examples of state...

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Compilation of synthetic marijuana posts
Oct02

Compilation of synthetic marijuana posts

Recent media coverage of our writings on the chemistry, pharmacology, 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. 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 from this pharmacology and chemistry blog, Terra Sigillata.   What’s the buzz?: Synthetic marijuana, K2, Spice, JWH-018 First appearing in February 2009, this is our classic, first-stop post explaining the background on these products and the compounds they contain. DEA already admits defeat on synthetic marijuana ban? This post from March 2011 describes how the US DEA prohibition on five synthetic cannabimimetics is already being circumvented by creative marketers. “Synthetic marijuana” chemist John W. Huffman interviewed on regional NPR program This January 2011 post discusses a Charlotte, NC, NPR interview with Professor Huffman from his home in western North Carolina. Strong chemistry in NC bills banning legal highs NC legislators aim to clean up “bath salt” omission 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. Mephedrone in the US This post compares and contrasts 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC, mephedrone) with synthetic marijuana, pointing specifically at these two...

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Compilation of synthetic marijuana posts
Oct02

Compilation of synthetic marijuana posts

Recent media coverage of our writings on the chemistry, pharmacology, 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 from this pharmacology and chemistry blog, Terra Sigillata.   What’s the buzz?: Synthetic marijuana, K2, Spice, JWH-018 First appearing in February 2009, this is our classic, first-stop post explaining the background on these products and the compounds they contain. DEA already admits defeat on synthetic marijuana ban? This post from March 2011 describes how the US DEA prohibition on five synthetic cannabimimetics is already being circumvented by creative marketers. “Synthetic marijuana” chemist John W. Huffman interviewed on regional NPR program This January 2011 post discusses a Charlotte, NC, NPR interview with Professor Huffman from his home in western North Carolina. Strong chemistry in NC bills banning legal highs NC legislators aim to clean up “bath salt” omission 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. Mephedrone in the...

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