Urine Drug Testing for Synthetic Marijuana Cannabinoids

What are synthetic cannabinoids?
Synthetic Cannabinoids, a class of designer drugs, are available in head shops, tobacco stores, and over the Internet under a variety of names, such as, “K2”, “Spice”, “Tucatan Fire”, “Skunk”, “Moon Rocks”, “Black Mamba”, and “Bombay Blue”. They are often labeled “not for human consumption” and common routes of administration include inhalation and oral ingestion.1

Regular users of Synthetic Cannabinoids may experience withdrawal and addiction symptoms.2 Tolerance to these agents may develop rapidly, which might be associated with dependence.3 The compounds are stored in the body for a long period of time and long-term effects on humans are not known.1

In 2010, the American Association of Poison Control Centers received 2,906 calls related to synthetic cannabinoids. In 2011, the number of calls received increased to 6,959.4 On July 9, 2012, President Obama signed into law the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act banning synthetic compounds commonly found in synthetic marijuana, by placing them under Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act.   5

Synthetic Marijuana and Drug Testing – Why Monitor?
Ameritox provides quantitative K2/Spice urine drug testing results for 15 of the most common synthetic cannabinoid compounds:

  • AKB48 5-Hydroxypentyl
  • AKB48 Pentanoic acid
  • AM2201 4-Hydroxypentyl
  • BB-22 3-Carboxyindole
  • JWH 018 Pentanoic acid
  • JWH 073 Butanoic acid
  • JWH 122 5-Hydroxypentyl
  • MAM 2201 4-Hydroxypentyl
  • PB-22 3-Carboxyindole
  • PB-22 Pentanoic acid
  • UR-144 5-Hydroxypentyl
  • UR-144 Pentanoic acid
  • XLR11 4-Hydroxypentyl

As of July 2012, these synthetic cannabinoids have been placed into Schedule 1 by the DEA, as “necessary to avoid imminent hazard to the public safety” due to high abuse potential and lack of medical use.1

Reported psychological effects of synthetic marijuana use2,6:

  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
  • Giddiness
  • Psychotic episodes
  • Hallucinations
  • Elevated mood
  • Relaxation
  • Altered perception

Reported physiologic of synthetic marijuana use2,6:

  • Tremor
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Mycardial ischemia
  • Heart attack

US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration 2011 Drugs of Abuse Resource Guide.
2 National Institute of Health, National Institute of Drug Abuse (2012, May). DrugFacts: Spice (Synthetic Marijuana).
Vardakou, I., Pistos, C., & Spiliopoulou, C. (2010). Spice drug as a new trend mode of action, identification and legislation. Toxicology Letter, 197, 157-162.
American Association of Poison Control Centers, Synthetic Drugs Data and Fact Sheets, Bath Salts and Synthetic Marijuana (September 2012).
United States Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration. Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA).
Spiller, HA, et. Al (2011). Clinical experience with and analytical confirmation of “bath salts” and “legal highs” (synthetic cathinones) in the United States. Clinical Toxicology. 49(6) 499-505.

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