Synthetic Marijuana

Common/Brand Names
Spice, K2
Expected Screen Results
Expected Confirmation Results
Confirmation Cutoff
Detection Time
Up to
drug image


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.



1. Moran, C.L., Le, V.H., Chimalakonda, K.C., Smedley, A.L., Lackey, F.D., Owen, S.N., et al. (2011) Quantitative Measurements of JWH-018 and JWH-073 Metabolites Excreted in Human Urine. Anal Chem.83(11), 4228-4236.

2. LaPoint, J., James, L.P., Moran, C.L., Nelson, S.L., Hoffman, R.S., and Moran, J.H., (2011) Severe Toxicity Following Synthetic Cannabinoid Ingestion.

3. Government Printing Office. (2011) Schedules of Controlled Substances: Temporary Placement of Five Synthetic Cannabinoids Into Schedule 1. 21 CFR Part 1308. Federal Register. 40, 11075-11078

4. Weaver, M.F., Hopper.J.A., Gunderson, E.W., (2015) Designer Drugs 2015: Assessment and Management. Addiction Science& Clinical Pratice. 10:8, 1-9.

5. Wiley, J.L., Marusich, J.A., Lefever, T.W., Grabenaurer, M., Moore, K.N., and Thomas, B.F., (2013) Cannabinoids in Disguise: Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol-Like Effects of Tetramethylcyclopropyl Ketone Indoles. J of neuropharmacology. 1-24.

6. Wohlfarth, A., Pang, S., Zhu, M., Ganhdi, A.S., Scheidweiler, K.B., Liu, H., (2013) First Metabolic Profile of XLR-11, A Novel Synthetic Cannabinoid, Obtained by Using Human Hepatocytes and High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry.

J of Clin Chem. 59 (11) 1638-1648.