Synthetic cannabinoids are designer drugs, and are an expanding and diverse subset of synthetic compounds developed to mimic euphoric effects of marijuana. Known as SPICE, K2, Paradise, Blaze, Fire and Genie, they are often sold in small paraphernalia stores and gas stations with false labels - “Not for human consumption,” or “For aromatherapy only” - to evade regulatory enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act. Abuse of synthetic cannabinoids is rampant, despite increased enforcement efforts to curb their availability and the published dangers of their use. In March 2011, these compounds were designated Schedule 1 drugs. Synthetic cannabinoids are typically inhaled (joint or pipe); and may also be administered orally or intranasally. The known adverse effects of their use include: anxiety, agitation, tachycardia, hallucinations, drowsiness, headaches, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, pallor, seizures, vomiting and loss of consciousness. Synthetic cannabinoids are rapidly and extensively metabolized, therefore the original administered drug is rarely detected, while nearly all resulting metabolites are excreted, and detectable in urine.
There is no commercially available screen to detect all synthetic cannabinoids. PremierTox has developed a proprietary confirmation assay that detects the metabolites of several prevalent synthetic cannabinoids (listed on right) by UPLC-MS/MS at a low concentration cutoff: 1 ng/mL.
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