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Perspectives on drugs: synthetic cannabinoids in Europe

 

 

Synthetic cannabinoids in Europe

Introduction

Last update: 31.05.2016

Synthetic cannabinoids represent the largest group of substances currently monitored in Europe by the EMCCDA through the EU Early Warning System. Current knowledge on these substances and trends in production, availability, use and harms are presented in this analysis.

Part of the ‘Perspectives on drugs’ (PODs) series, launched alongside the annual European Drug Report, these designed-for-the-web interactive analyses aim to provide deeper insights into a selection of important issues.

Analysis: synthetic cannabinoids in Europe

Synthetic cannabinoids are a group of substances that mimic the effects of (–)-trans-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the substance that is primarily responsible for the major psychoactive effects of cannabis. Like THC, the synthetic cannabinoids bind to the cannabinoid receptors in the body. This is why these substances have been used to create a large range of ‘legal high’ products sold as legal replacements for cannabis. They are the largest group of new psychoactive substances monitored by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

‘Legal high’ products containing synthetic cannabinoids have been sold as ‘herbal smoking mixtures’ since the mid-2000s. These products do not contain cannabis, but when smoked produce similar effects. They have been subject to innovative marketing approaches and are widely and openly available on the web, and in some countries in bricks-and-mortar (‘head’ and ‘smart’) shops.

The number of synthetic cannabinoids, their chemical diversity and the speed of their emergence make this group of compounds particularly challenging in terms of detection, monitoring, and responding. Suppliers simply aim to mimic the effects of THC. In essence, this makes each synthetic cannabinoid disposable. When one synthetic cannabinoid is, or is about to be, legally controlled manufacturers can have one or more replacement substance ready for sale.

Little is known about how these substances work and their toxic effects in humans. However, their use has caused many serious poisonings and even deaths — sometimes these have manifested as outbreaks of mass poisonings. It is possible that, along with being highly potent, some may also have long half-lives, potentially leading to a prolonged psychoactive effect. In addition, it appears that at least some of these substances have an effect on other physiological functions in the body beyond effects on the cannabinoid receptors.

This analysis aims to provide an update on the current knowledge of these substances and their effects, and trends in production, availability and use.

The emergence of synthetic cannabinoids

Despite internet rumours since the mid-2000s of ‘herbal smoking mixtures’ sold as ‘legal highs’ that could produce ‘strong’ cannabis-like effects, it wasn’t until 2008 that forensic investigators in Germany and Austria first detected the synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018, in a product sold under the brand name ‘Spice’ (1). Subsequently several cannabinoids were detected in smoking mixtures or so-called incense/room odorisers. Typical of these were Spice Gold, Spice Silver and Yucatan Fire, but many other products later appeared. Many of the cannabinoids that have been detected in these products were first developed by scientists investigating how cannabinoids affect the body and to see if they could work as medicines to treat a number of diseases and their symptoms — such as neurodegenerative diseases, drug dependence, pain disorders and cancer. However, so far it has proved difficult to separate the desired medicinal properties from unwanted psychoactive effects.

The number of synthetic cannabinoids detected through the EU Early Warning System continues to grow. One was reported in 2008; 9 in 2009; 11 in 2010; 23 in 2011; 30 in 2012; 29 in 2013; 30 in 2014; and 25 in 2015 — with a total of 160 synthetic cannabinoids having been notified to the EMCDDA as of December 2015 (2).

Synthetic cannabinoids play an important role in the rapidly evolving ‘legal highs’ market. ‘Legal highs’ is an umbrella term used to describe non-regulated (new) psychoactive substances that are usually intended to mimic the effects of controlled drugs and are sold on the open market. This is an area characterised by limited data on use, with the risks and harms largely unknown, and where highly potent drugs are of serious concern. In the case of smoking mixtures containing synthetic cannabinoids, for example, there can be considerable variability both within and between different batches of the products, in terms of both the substances and the amount present.

The manufacture of synthetic cannabinoid products

Most of the synthetic cannabinoids that are used in ‘legal high’ products are manufactured by chemical companies based in China. They are shipped as bulk powders to Europe using express mail and courier companies; larger amounts may by shipped by air or sea cargo. Multi-kilogram shipments are frequently intercepted by authorities in Europe. While the purity of these bulk powders are rarely determined, one study from South Korea reported purities of between 75 % and 90 % for bulk powder samples (3). In 2014 almost 30 000 seizures (29 395) were reported to the EMCDDA weighing more than 1.3 tonnes (1 355 kg), of which almost 350 kg (343.973 kg) was bulk powder. Once in Europe, the retail products are put together. Damiana (Turnera diffusa) and Lamiaceae herbs such as Melissa, Mentha and Thymus (4) are commonly used as the plant base for the smoking mixtures. The synthetic cannabinoids are mixed with or sprayed onto the plant material, typically on an industrial scale using solvents such as acetone or methanol to dissolve the powders; equipment like cement mixers are then used to mix the ingredients together. From there, the mixture is then dried and packaged. They are then sold on the internet by ‘legal high’ retailers and in bricks-and-mortar head shops.

Due to the high potency of some synthetic cannabinoids, the amount of powder needed for each packet can be in the order of a few tens of milligrams. This means that each kilogram of bulk powder may produce thousands of packets of ‘legal highs’. The discovery of processing and packaging facilities and large quantities of synthetic cannabinoids in the Netherlands and Belgium suggests the involvement of organised crime in the distribution process. There is also evidence of a significant internet retail trade within Europe, with customs and police making regular seizures of small quantities of these products.

Monitoring of online shops selling ‘legal high’ products provides some insight into the range of smoking mixtures available for purchase, many of which are likely to contain synthetic cannabinoids. Such monitoring, when combined with test purchasing of products for sale, is also a way of both keeping track of how the substances contained in a product change over time, and helping in the early detection of new cannabinoids that appear on the market.

Prevalence

Information on the extent to which synthetic cannabinoid products are used is limited; however, knowledge of the situation is improving as more countries incorporate questions about their use in general population surveys. From the information that is available, it would appear that the prevalence of their use in the general population is low in Europe. A number of surveys aimed at examining the prevalence of use of ‘Spice’-like products have been launched but their coverage and representativeness remains limited.

There are notable differences between the prevalence of use of synthetic cannabinoid products between the European and US drug markets. The most recent US prevalence data comes from the 2014 US Monitoring the Future survey of students, which suggests use is declining, with last year prevalence for 17- to 18-year-olds of 5.8 % in 2014, down from 7.9 % in 2013 and 11.3 % in 2012 (5). A number of surveys in European countries also report on the use of synthetic cannabinoids, although they are not comparable as they use different methods, sampling frames and terminology. Overall, these studies indicate very low prevalence levels. The United Kingdom (England and Wales) asked about the use of ‘Spice’ in two consecutive household surveys and reported lifetime prevalence levels for adults (16–64) at 0.2 % in 2010/2011 and 0.1 % in 2011/2012 (6,7). In the latest British Crime Survey for England and Wales covering 2014/2015 a total of 0.9 % of adults (16–59) had used new psychoactive substances in the last year, of which 61 % had used a herbal smoking mixture (8). The question was not repeated in subsequent years due to the low prevalence rate. In Spain a 2012 national survey on drug use among students aged 14–18 with a sample of 27 503 also identified low levels of use of ‘Spice’ products, with prevalence rates of 1.4 % for lifetime use, 1.0 % for last year use and 0.6 % for last month use, which indicated a small increase from the previous survey results from 2010 (1.1 %; 0.8 %; and 0.5 % respectively) (9). This compares with 0.5 %, 0.1 % and 0 % in a more general Spanish survey of 15- to 64-year-olds conducted in 2013 (10). In France in 2014 a survey of adults (18–64) with a question about the use of ‘synthetic cannabinoids’ reported lifetime use of 1.7 %. First-time users of these new synthetic products are mostly males (2.3 % vs. 1.2 % of females) and from the youngest generation (under 35 years): 4.0 % of 18- to 34-year-olds had tried synthetic cannabinoid compared to 0.6 % of 35- to 64-year-olds (11). Another survey in France, among young people aged 17, reported that 1.7 % of them have previously used a synthetic cannabinoid (12). The German city of Frankfurt has studied the use of smoking mixtures and ‘Spice’ among students aged 15–18. They reported lifetime levels of use of 7 % in 2009; 9 % in 2010; and 7 % in 2011 and 2012 (13,14,15). In 2013 lifetime use of smoking mixtures fell to 5 %, and although it increased to 6 % in 2014 it was still below the values from 2009–12 (16,17). Students reporting the consumption of ‘Spice’ were, for the most part, experienced cannabis consumers. Finally, a number of studies among particular groups (clubbers, internet users, etc.) with non-probabilistic samples have generally identified higher levels of synthetic cannabinoid use than among the general population. The 2012 Global Drug Survey, for example, reported last year prevalence levels of 3.3 % among all UK respondents (not representative of the general population) and 5.0 % among UK regular clubbers (18).

Synthetic cannabinoid related harms

The adverse health effects associated with synthetic cannabinoids are linked to both the intrinsic properties of the substances, what the body does to the substances, and to the way the products are produced. There has been a large number of non-fatal poisonings, and a smaller number of deaths are associated with their use (19,20). As some of these compounds are very potent, the potential for toxic effects appears to be high. These risks may be added to by the manufacturing process, which can lead to an uneven distribution of the substances within the plant material. This may result in some products containing ‘hot pockets’ where the cannabinoid is highly concentrated, leading to doses that are higher than intended and increasing the risk of serious adverse events (21,22). It is also possible that some of the adverse effects are due to mechanisms other than interaction with the cannabinoid receptors, for example by interfering with other physiological functions in the body (23).

A recent systematic review of adverse events associated with synthetic cannabinoid products found that agitation, nausea and an abnormally fast, racing heartbeat were frequently reported poisoning symptoms (17); while serious adverse events — such as stroke, seizure, heart attack, breakdown of muscle tissue, kidney damage, psychosis and severe or prolonged vomiting — and associated deaths were less common (17). Symptoms suggestive of dependence and withdrawal have also been reported (22). Overall, estimating how common these adverse events are is difficult because, among other things, the total number of people exposed to the drugs is unknown (17).

One of the most striking features of synthetic cannabinoid products is their ability to cause outbreaks of mass poisonings. Sometimes this involves hundreds of people over a short period of time — which has been a major problem in the past few years in the United States and Russia. In 2014 in Russia the cannabinoid MDMB-FUBINACA was linked to more than 600 poisonings, including 15 deaths, over a two-week period (23). Early in 2016 this substance was identified on the European market, triggering a public health alert from the EMCDDA to its early warning network. In 2015 there was another large outbreak in the United States, which appears to have been linked partly to a substance called ADB-FUBINACA (24,25). While these types of outbreaks appear to be rare in Europe, in 2015 more than 200 hospital emergencies were reported in less than a week after people were reported to have smoked a product called ‘Mocarz’ in Poland.

EMCDDA monitoring of such serious adverse events and current knowledge of the pharmacological and toxicological effects of some synthetic cannabinoids, show that these compounds can cause serious harm to human health. However, at present the mechanisms of how this happens are poorly understood.

Recent developments

From the start of the synthetic cannabinoid phenomenon these substances have largely been detected in products sold as ‘herbal smoking mixtures’. More recently, however, several countries have also reported finding the substances in products that look like cannabis resin, either in branded ‘legal high’ products such as ‘Afghan Incense’ or simply passed off as cannabis resin on the illicit market. This development is likely to be a response to the popularity of cannabis resin in many countries. Synthetic cannabinoids have also been detected in mixtures containing other new psychoactive substances, such as stimulants, hallucinogens and sedative/hypnotics; this may be deliberate or accidental. In a small number of cases, the presence of synthetic cannabinoids has been detected in what appear to be ecstasy tablets or capsules. In Hungary and the United States this has led to clusters of acute poisonings (26). Another recent development has been the discovery of synthetic cannabinoids in the liquid-filled cartridges for use in electronic cigarettes; this most likely reflects the recent popularity of ‘vaping’ among young people.

The EMCDDA has been closely monitoring developments relating to synthetic cannabinoids since their identification on the European market in 2008. A striking feature has been the way in which this chemical family has evolved and adapted during this time. It is clear that the innovative chemical substitution patterns that have characterised this phenomenon mean that continued close monitoring of new developments in the field — including synthetic cannabinoid-related harms — will be essential.

Footnotes

  • (1) EMCDDA (2009), Understanding the ‘Spice’ phenomenon, EMCDDA Thematic paper, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.
  • (2) For the purposes of monitoring within the framework of the EU Early Warning System, the term ‘synthetic cannabinoids’ is used here to include: the large number of synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (such as JWH-018 which is a CB1 and CB2 receptor agonist) that have been detected on the European drug market; a much smaller number of allosteric modulators (such as Org 27569) that change the structure of the cannabinoid receptors leading to altered activity when a ligand binds to the receptors; and substances that act as inhibitors of fatty-acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which is the enzyme responsible for breaking down the endocannabinoid anandamide (such as URB597). This Perspective on Drugs only discusses the synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists.
  • (3) Choi, H., Heo, S., Choe, S., et al. (2013), ‘Simultaneous analysis of synthetic cannabinoids in the materials seized during drug trafficking using GC-MS’, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 405(12), pp. 3937–3944.
  • (4) Ogata, J., Uchiyama, N., Kikura-Hanajiri, R. and Goda, Y. (2013), ‘DNA sequence analyses of blended herbal products including synthetic cannabinoids as designer drugs’, Forensic Science International, 227(1–3), pp. 33–41.
  • (5) National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014), ‘Monitoring the Future Survey 2014, overview of findings’, NIDA, Bethesda, MD.
  • (6) Smith, K. and Flatley, J. (eds) (2011), Drug misuse declared: Findings from the 2010/11 British Crime Survey, England and Wales, Home Office, London.
  • (7) Office for National Statistics (2012), Drug misuse declared: Findings from the 2011/12 Crime Survey for England and Wales, Home Office, London.
  • (8) Home Office (2015), ‘Tables for drug misuse: Findings from the 2014 to 2015 CSEW’, Home Office, London.
  • (9) Spanish Observatory on Drugs (2012), Survey on drug use among Secondary School Students in Spain 2012 (ESTUDES).
  • (10) Spanish Observatory on Drugs (2013), Survey on Alcohol and Drugs in Spain (EDADES)
  • (11) Beck, F., Richard, J.-B., Guignard, R., Le Nezet, O. and Spilka, S. (2015), ‘Levels of drugs use in France in 2014’, Tendances 99.
  • (12) Spilka, S., Le Nézet, O., Ngantcha, M. and Beck, F. (2015), ‘Drug use in 17-year-olds: Analysis of the ESCAPAD survey’, Tendances 100.
  • (13) Werse, B., Müller, O., Schell, C. and Morgenstern, C. (2011), Jahresbericht MoSyD: Drogentrends in Frankfurt am Main 2010, Centre for Drug Research, Frankfurt am Main.
  • (14) Werse, B., Bernard, C., Schell-Mack, C. and Morgenstern, C. (2012), MoSyD Jahresbericht 2011: Drogentrends in Frankfurt am Main, Centre for Drug Research, Frankfurt am Main.
  • (15) Bernard, C., Werse, B. and Schell-Mack, C. (2013), MoSyD Jahresbericht 2012: Drogentrends in Frankfurt am Main, Centre for Drug Research, Frankfurt am Main.
  • (16) Werse, B., Morgenstern, C. and Sarvari, L. (2014), MoSyD Jahresbericht 2013: Drogentrends in Frankfurt am Main, Centre for Drug Research, Frankfurt am Main.
  • (17) Werse, B., Kamphausen, G., Egger, D., Sarvari, L. and Müller, D. (2015), MoSyD Jahresbericht 2014: Drogentrends in Frankfurt am Main, Centre for Drug Research, Frankfurt am Main.
  • (18) Guardian/Mixmag Survey (2012), accessed 13 March 2013.
  • (19) Tait, R. J., Caldicott, D., Mountain, D., Hill, S. L., Lenton, S. (2016), ‘A systematic review of adverse events arising from the use of synthetic cannabinoids and their associated treatment’, Clinical Toxicology (Philadelphia) 54(1), pp. 1–13.
  • (20) American Association of Poison Control Centers (n.d.), ‘Synthetic cannabinoids’, AAPCC, Alexandria, VA.
  • (21) Lindigkeit, R. 1., Boehme, A., Eiserloh, I., et al. (2009), ‘Spice: A never ending story?’, Forensic Science International, 191(1–3), pp. 58–63.
  • (22) Uchiyama, N., Kikura-Hanajiri, R., Ogata, J. and Goda, Y. (2010), ‘Chemical analysis of synthetic cannabinoids as designer drugs in herbal products’, Forensic Science International, 198(1–3), pp. 31–38.
  • (23) Fisar, Z. (2010), ‘Inhibition of monoamine oxidase activity by cannabinoids’, Naunyn Schmiedeberg’s Archives of Pharmacology, 381(6), pp. 563–572.
  • (24) Macfarlane, V. and Christie, G. (2015), ‘Synthetic cannabinoid withdrawal: A new demand on detoxification services’, Drug and Alcohol Review 34(2), pp. 147–153.
  • (25) Shevyrin, V., Melkozerov, V., Nevero, A., et al. (2016), ‘Identification and analytical characteristics of synthetic cannabinoids with an indazole-3-carboxamide structure bearing a N-1-methoxycarbonylalkyl group’, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 407(21), pp. 6301–6315.
  • (26) Kasper, A. M., Ridpath, A. D., Arnold, J. K., et al. (2015), ‘Severe illness associated with reported use of synthetic cannabinoids: Mississippi, April 2015’, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 64(39), pp. 1121–1122.
  • (27) Drug Enforcement Administration (2015), ‘Proposed rule schedules of controlled substances: Temporary placement of the synthetic cannabinoid MAB-CHMINACA into Schedule I’, Federal Register 80(179), pp. 55565–55568.
  • (28) Brenneman, R., Papsun, D. M., Logan, B. K. and Neavyn, M. J. (2016), ‘Death-like slumber: Toxic outbreak of AB-FUBINACA’, Journal of Medical Toxicology, 12(1), p. 39.

2. Interactive: demystifying the chemistry

Loading interactive feature… please wait

In an attempt to make the chemistry of the synthetic cannabinoids more readily understandable, a model is presented here to help explain the chemical make-up of these compounds. The synthetic cannabinoids are chemically diverse, what they share is their ability to bind to the cannabinoid receptors. However, the structure of the majority of synthetic cannabinoids can be broken down into four key parts: the core and substituents, the link section, the ring and substituents, and the tail section. If you select the right combination of component molecules, a synthetic cannabinoid will appear.
Hint: click on a molecule again to 'toggle' its selection state.

 
Cannabinoid Core Core Substituent Link Ring system Ring substituent Tail
Apinaca indazole : carboxamide adamantyl : pentyl
AKB-48F indazole : carboxamide adamantyl : 5-fluoropentyl
AM-2201 indazolecarboxamide analogue indazole : carboxamide naphthyl : 5-fluoropentyl
A-834,735 indole : methanone cyclopropyl 2,2,3,3-tetramethyl tetrahydropyran-4-yl methyl
JWH-015 indole : methanone naphthyl : propyl
AM-679 indole : methanone phenyl 2-iodo pentyl
Apica indole : carboxamide adamantyl : pentyl
JWH-018 indole : methanone naphthyl : pentyl
JWH-007 indole 2-methyl (core-substituent) methanone naphthyl : pentyl
JWH-018 adamantoyl derivative indole : methanone adamantyl : pentyl
AM-6527 indole : carboxamide naphthyl : pentyl
AM-6527 5F derivative indole : carboxamide naphthyl : 5-fluoropentyl
PB-22 indole : carboxylate quinolinyl : pentyl
JWH-081 indole : methanone naphthyl 4-methoxy pentyl
JWH-122 indole : methanone naphthyl 4-methyl pentyl
JWH-182 indole : methanone naphthyl 4-propyl pentyl
JWH-203 indole : ethanone phenyl 2-chloro pentyl
JWH-210 indole : methanone naphthyl 4-ethyl pentyl
JWH-250 indole : ethanone phenyl 2-methoxy pentyl
JWH-251 indole : ethanone phenyl 2-methyl (ring-substituent) pentyl
JWH-387 indole : methanone naphthyl 4-bromo pentyl
JWH-398 indole : methanone naphthyl 2-chloro pentyl
JWH-412 indole : methanone naphthyl 4-fluoro pentyl
RCS-4 indole : methanone phenyl 4-methoxy pentyl
RCS-4 ortho isomer indole : methanone phenyl 2-methoxy pentyl
UR-144 indole : methanone cyclopropyl 2,2,3,3-tetramethyl pentyl
JWH-022 indole : methanone naphthyl : pent-4-enyl
JWH-122 pentenyl 2-methylindole derivative indole 2-methyl (core-substituent) methanone naphthyl 4-methyl pent-4-enyl
JWH-122 pentenyl derivative indole : methanone naphthyl 4-methyl pent-4-enyl
UR -144 (-2H) indole : methanone cyclopropyl 2,2,3,3-tetramethyl pent-4-enyl
AM-1220 Azepane Isomer indole : methanone naphthyl : methylazepan-3-yl
AB-005 azepane isomer indole : methanone cyclopropyl 2,2,3,3-tetramethyl methylazepan-3-yl
3-(p-Methoxybenzoyl)-N-methylindole indole : methanone phenyl 4-methoxy methyl
JWH-019 indole : methanone naphthyl : hexyl
UR-144 heptyl derivative indole : methanone cyclopropyl 2,2,3,3-tetramethyl heptyl
BB-22 indole : carboxylate quinolinyl : cyclohexylmethyl
JWH-073 indole : methanone naphthyl : butyl
JWH-073 methyl derivative indole : methanone naphthyl 4-methyl butyl
RCS-4(C4) indole : methanone phenyl 4-methoxy butyl
5FUR-144 indole : methanone cyclopropyl 2,2,3,3-tetramethyl 5-fluoropentyl
AM-2201 indole : methanone naphthyl : 5-fluoropentyl
AM-694 indole : methanone phenyl 2-iodo 5-fluoropentyl
AM-694 ethyl substituted for iodine indole : methanone phenyl 2-ethyl 5-fluoropentyl
AM-694 methyl substituted for iodine indole : methanone phenyl 2-methyl (ring-substituent) 5-fluoropentyl
MAM-2201 indole : methanone naphthyl 4-methyl 5-fluoropentyl
STS-135 indole : carboxamide adamantyl : 5-fluoropentyl
EAM-2201 indole : methanone naphthyl 4-ethyl 5-fluoropentyl
5F-PB22 indole : carboxylate quinolinyl : 5-fluoropentyl
AM-694 chloro derivative indole : methanone phenyl 2-iodo 5-chloropentyl
JWH 018 N-(5-chloropentyl) derivative indole : methanone naphthyl : 5-chloropentyl
MAM-2201 chloropentyl derivative indole : methanone naphthyl 4-methyl 5-chloropentyl
UR-144 N-(5-chloropentyl) derivative indole : methanone cyclopropyl 2,2,3,3-tetramethyl 5-chloropentyl
JWH 018 N-(5-bromopentyl) derivative indole : methanone naphthyl : 5-bromopentyl
AM-2232 indole : methanone naphthyl : 4-cyanobutyl
A-796,260 indole : methanone cyclopropyl 2,2,3,3-tetramethyl 2-morpholin-4-yl ethyl
JWH-200 indole : methanone naphthyl : 2-morpholin-4-yl ethyl
WIN 48,098 / Pravadoline indole 2-methyl (core-substituent) methanone phenyl 4-methoxy 2-morpholin-4-yl ethyl
AB-005 indole : methanone cyclopropyl 2,2,3,3-tetramethyl methylpiperidin-2-yl methyl
AM-1220 indole : methanone naphthyl : methylpiperidin-2-yl methyl
AM-1248 indole : methanone adamantyl : methylpiperidin-2-yl methyl
AM-1248 azepane isomer indole : methanone adamantyl : methylazepan-3-yl
AM-2233 indole : methanone phenyl 2-iodo methylpiperidin-2-yl methyl
JWH-250 1-(2-methylene-N-methyl-piperidyl) derivative indole : ethanone phenyl 2-methoxy methylpiperidin-2-yl methyl
CRA-13 naphthalene : methanone naphthyl : pentoxy
JWH-307 pyrrole 5-(2-fluoro)phenyl methanone naphthyl : pentyl
JWH-370 pyrrole 5-(2-methyl)phenyl methanone naphthyl : pentyl
JWH-368 pyrrole 5-(3-fluoro)phenyl methanone naphthyl : pentyl
JWH-307 bromine analogue pyrrole 5-(2-bromo)phenyl methanone naphthyl : pentyl
JWH-030 pyrrole : methanone naphthyl : pentyl
JWH-145 pyrrole 5-phenyl methanone naphthyl : pentyl
Apinaca cannabinoid

http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/Apinaca.png

371 517 apinaca
AKB-48F cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AKB-48Fv2.png 391 528 akb48f
AM-2201 indazolecarboxamide analogue cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AM-2201%20indazolecarboxamide.png 425 528 am2201inda
A-834,735 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/A-834_735.png 357 396 a834735
JWH-015 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-015.png 356 455 jwh015
AM-679 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AM-679.png 356 425 am679
Apica cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/apicaV2.png 371 517 apica
JWH-018 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/jwh-018v2.png 356 517 jwh018
JWH-007 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-007.png 356 517 jwh007
JWH-018 adamantoyl derivative cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-018-adamantoyl-derivativeV2.png 356 467 jwh018adade
AM-6527 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AM-6527.png 425 517 am6527
PB-22 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/PB-22.png 425 517 pb22
JWH-081 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-081.png 445 517 jwh081
JWH-122 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-122.png 409 517 jwh122
JWH-182 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-182.png 498 517 jwh182
JWH-203 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-203.png 356 517 jwh203
JWH-210 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-210.png 445 517 jwh210
JWH-250 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-250.png 409 517 jwh250
JWH-251 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-251.png 356 517 jwh251
JWH-387 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-387.png 409 517 jwh387
JWH-398 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-398.png 356 517 jwh398
JWH-412 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-412.png 409 517 jwh412
RCS-4 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/RCS-4.png 445 425 rcs4
RCS-4 ortho isomer cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/RCS-4%20ortho%20isomer.png 356 425 rcs4oriso
UR-144 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/UR-144.png 350 447 ur144
JWH-022 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-022.png 356 517 jwh022
JWH-122 pentenyl 2-methylindole derivative cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-122%20pentenyl%202-methylindole.png 409 517 jwh122p2md
JWH-122 pentenyl derivative cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-122%20pentenyl.png 409 517 jwh122pd
UR -144 (-2H) cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/UR-144%20(-2H).png 350 447 ur1442h
AM-1220 Azepane Isomer cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AM-1220%20azepane%20isomer.png 356 513 am1220azis
AB-005 azepane isomer cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AB-005%20azepane%20isomer.png 350 443 ab005azeiso
3-(p-Methoxybenzoyl)-N-methylindole cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/3-%28p-methoxybenzoyl%29-N-methylindole.png 445 301 3pmnm
JWH-019 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-019.png 391 528 jwh019
UR-144 heptyl derivative cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/UR-144%20heptyl.png 408 509 ur144hep
BB-22 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/BB-22.png 425 466 bb22
JWH-073 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-073.png 356 466 jwh073
JWH-073 methyl derivative cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-073%20methyl.png 409 466 jwh073met
RCS-4(C4) cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/RCS-4%20(C4)(1).png 445 374 rcs4c4
5FUR-144 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/5FUR-144.png 391 458 5fur144
AM-2201 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AM-2201.png 391 528 am2201
AM-694 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AM-694.png 391 436 am694
AM-694 ethyl substituted for iodine cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AM-694%20ethyl%20for%20iodine.png 391 436 am694ethio
AM-694 methyl substituted for iodine cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AM-694%20methyl%20for%20iodine.png 391 436 am694methio
MAM-2201 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/MAM-2201.png 409 528 mam2201
STS-135 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/STS-135v2.png 391 528 sts135
EAM-2201 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/EAM-2201.png 445 528 eam2201
5F-PB22 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/5F-PB-22.png 425 528 5fpb22
AM-694 chloro derivative cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AM-694%20chloro.png 391 436 am694chlo
JWH 018 N-(5-chloropentyl) derivative cannabinoid : : : jwh018n5chlo
MAM-2201 chloropentyl derivative cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/MAM-2201%20N-(5-chloropentyl).png 409 528 mam2201chlo
UR-144 N-(5-chloropentyl) derivative cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/UR-144%20N-(5-chloropentyl).png 391 458 ur144n5chlo
JWH 018 N-(5-bromopentyl) derivative cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-018%20N-(5-bromopentyl).png 391 528 jwh018n5bro
AM-2232 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AM-2232.png 391 528 am2232
A-796,260 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/A-796_260.png 350 487 a796260
JWH-200 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-200.png 356 557 jwh200
WIN 48,098 / Pravadoline cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/WIN%2048_098-pravadoline.png 445 466 win48098pr
AB-005 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AB-005.png 350 454 ab005
AM-1220 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AM-1220.png 356 524 am1220
AM-1248 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AM-1248.png 356 474 am1248
AM-2233 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AM-2233.png 356 433 am2233
JWH-250 1-(2-methylene-N-methyl-piperidyl) derivative cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-250%20Nmpm%20deriv.png 409 524 jwh250nmpm
CRA-13 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/CRA-13.png 457 469 cra13
JWH-307 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-307.png 464 510 jwh307
JWH-370 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-370.png 464 510 jwh370
JWH-368 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-368.png 493 510 jwh368
JWH-307 bromine analogue cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-307%20bromine.png 464 510 jwh307bro
JWH-030 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-030.png 310 510 jwh030
JWH-145 cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/JWH-145.png 464 510 jwh145
AM-6527 5F derivative cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AM-6527%205F%20derivative.png 425 528 am65275fderivative
AM-1248 azepane isomer cannabinoid http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/AM-1248-azepane.png 358 451 am1248azepaneisomer
naphthyl ring http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/naphthyl%20core.png 224 144 :
adamantyl ring http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/adamantyl%20ring%20system.png 157 177 :
cyclopropyl ring http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/cyclopropyl%20ring%20system.png 144 177 :
quinolinyl ring http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/quinolinyl%20ring%20system.png 177 225 :
phenyl ring http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/phenyl%20ring%20system.png 130 144 :
2-methyl (ring-substituent) ringSubstituent : : : blank
2-ethyl ringSubstituent : : : blank
2-methoxy ringSubstituent : : : blank
4-methoxy ringSubstituent : : : blank
2-iodo ringSubstituent : : : :blank
2-chloro ringSubstituent : : : blank
4-methyl ringSubstituent : : : blank
4-ethyl ringSubstituent : : : blank
4-propyl ringSubstituent : : : blank
4-fluoro ringSubstituent : : : blank
4-bromo ringSubstituent : : : blank
2,2,3,3-tetramethyl ringSubstituent : : : blank
methyl tail http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/methylv2.png 36 90 :
propyl tail http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/propyl.png 83 171 :
butyl tail http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/butyl.png 130 198 :
pentyl tail http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/pentyl2.png 183 221  
pent-4-enyl tail http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/pentenyl%20tail.png 130 198 :
pentoxy tail http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/pentoxy%20tail.png 177 280 :
5-fluoropentyl tail http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/fluoropentyl%20tail.png 130 252 :
5-chloropentyl tail http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/chloropentyl%20tail.png 130 252 :
5-bromopentyl tail http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/bromopentyl%20tail(1).png 130 252 :
hexyl tail http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/hexyl2.png 177 280 :
heptyl tail http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/heptyl2.png 177 279 :
cyclohexylmethyl tail http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/cyclohexylmethyl2.png 177 198 :
methylpiperidin-2-yl methyl tail http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/methylpiperidin-2-yl%20methyl%20tail.png 195 168 :
methylazepan-3-yl tail http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/methylazepan-3-yl%20tail.png 210 157 :
tetrahydropyran-4-yl methyl tail http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/tetrahydropyran-4-yl%20tail.png 195 139 :
2-morpholin-4-yl ethyl tail http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/2-morpholin-4-yl%20tail.png 176 201 :
indole core http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/indole.png 213 144 :
indazole core http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/Indazole%20core.png 213 144 :
pyrrole core http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/pyrrole%20core.png 124 120 :
naphthalene core http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/naphthylene%20core.png 224 144 :
2-methyl (core-substituent) coreSubstituent : : : :
5-phenyl coreSubstituent : : : :
5-(2-methyl)phenyl coreSubstituent : : : :
5-(2-fluoro)phenyl coreSubstituent : : : :
5-(2-bromo)phenyl coreSubstituent : : : :
5-(3-fluoro)phenyl coreSubstituent : : : :
methanone link http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/methanone.png 117 130 :
ethanone link http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/ethanone.png 144 130 :
carboxamide link http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/carboxamide%20linker.png 144 130 :
carboxylate link http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/userfiles/image/pods/synthetic-cannabinoids/carboxylate%20linker.png 144 130 :

Synthetic cannabinoid Apinaca

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the adamantyl indazolecarboxamide family. It takes its codename from its systematic chemical name: N-(1-adamantyl)-1-pentyl-1H-indazole-3-carboxamide. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in May 2012 in Bulgaria when it was found in a smoking mixture product called ‘White Widow’. This substance also goes by the name ‘AKB-48’, the name of a popular all-girl band from Japan.

Synthetic cannabinoid AKB-48F

A synthetic cannabinoid of the adamantyl indazolecarboxamide family. It is chemically related to APINACA. It was first reported to the EMCDDA when it was detected in a herbal smoking mixture seized by Police in Latvia in September 2012.

Synthetic cannabinoid AM-2201 indazolecarboxamide analogue

A is a synthetic cannabinoid of the naphthyl indazolecarboxamide family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in October 2012 by Finland where it was detected as a component in a white powder.

Synthetic cannabinoid Apica

A synthetic cannabinoid of the adamantyl indolecarboxamide family. It takes its codename from its systematic chemical name: N-(1-adamantyl)-1-pentyl-1H-indole-3-carboxamide. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in July 2012 and has been detected in bulk powders and in herbal smoking mixtures.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018

A synthetic cannabinoid of the naphthoylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in December 2008 by Germany and Austria, being found as an ingredient in different varieties of ‘Spice’ products. JWH-018 is a controlled substance in many EU Member States.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018 adamantoyl derivative

A synthetic cannabinoid of the adamantoylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in February 2011 when it was detected in branded herbal smoking mixtures such as ‘Nuclear Reactor’, ‘Toxic Waste’ and ‘Radio Active’. This substance also goes by the codename AB-001.

Synthetic cannabinoid AM-6527

A synthetic cannabinoid of the naphthyl indolecarboxamide family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in July 2012 when it was detected by authorities in Finland. This substance has several codenames such as ‘MN24’, ‘NNIE’, ‘NNEI’, ‘NNE1’.

Synthetic cannabinoid PB-22

A synthetic cannabinoid of the quinolinyl indolecarboxylate family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in November 2012 when it was detected by Finnish customs authorities in a seizure of 54 kilograms of light brown powder. PB-22 also goes by the codename ‘QUPIC’.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-022

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. This substance was first reported to the EMCDDA in November 2011 by the United Kingdom. It is normally found along with AM-2201 and it is known to be formed when AM-2201 breaks down metabolically and by thermal decomposition.

Synthetic cannabinoid AM-1220 Azepane Isomer

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. This substance was reported to the EMCDDA in May 2011. It is thought to be a by-product formed during the production of AM-1220.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-019

A synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in October 2010 by Finland. It has been found in herbal smoking mixtures and powders on its own and with other synthetic cannabinoids.

Synthetic cannabinoid BB-22

Little is known about this substance, a quinolinyl indolecarboxylate which shares some structural features similar to known synthetic cannabinoids. It was reported to the EMCDDA in January 2013 when it was detected in powders seized by Spanish authorities. BB-22 also goes by the codename ‘QUCHIC’.

Synthetic cannabinoid AM-2201

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in January 2011 by Latvian authorities and has been frequently reported ever since. Use of AM-2201 has been associated with convulsions.

Synthetic cannabinoid STS-135

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the adamantyl indolecarboxamide family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in June 2012 by Hungary and has been detected in powders and in branded herbal smoking mixtures such as ‘Armageddon’. STS-135 was the codename for the 135th mission of the American Space Shuttle programme.

Synthetic cannabinoid 5F-PB22

A synthetic cannabinoid of the quinolinyl indolecarboxylate family. This substance was first reported to the EMCDDA in March 2013 by Belgian authorities. Little is known about this novel compound.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH 018 N-(5-chloropentyl) derivative

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA by Germany in July 2012 and has been found often in combination with other synthetic cannabinoids in branded herbal smoking mixtures such as ‘Black Jack Silver’, ‘Black Jack Gold’, ‘New Bonzai Sommernight’ and ‘New Bonzai’.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH 018 N-(5-bromopentyl) derivative

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. This brominated compound was reported to the EMCDDA by Germany in July 2012 when it was identified as one of the synthetic cannabinoids present in a herbal smoking mixture branded ‘XOXO’.

Synthetic cannabinoid AM-2232

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It is the only synthetic cannabinoid monitored by the EMCDDA where the tail includes a nitrile group. It was first notified to the EMCDDA by Germany in December 2011 when it was identified as a component of a herbal smoking mixture branded ‘Summerlicious’.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-200

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in December 2009 when it was detected by authorities in Lithuania in a sample seized by border officials. It has since been detected in powders and in herbal smoking mixtures.

Synthetic cannabinoid AM-1220

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in May 2011 when it was detected by German authorities in a herbal smoking mixture branded ‘Soulman’.

Synthetic cannabinoid AM-1248

A cannabinoid receptor agonist of the adamantoylindole type. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in September 2012 when it was detected by German authorities in a herbal smoking mixture branded ‘Annihilation’.

Synthetic cannabinoid CRA-13

The first synthetic cannabinoid reported to the EMCDDA that belongs to the naphthoylnaphthalene family. It was reported in January 2011 by German authorities as a minor ingredient in a herbal smoking mixture. CRA-13 also goes by the codenames ‘CB-13’ and ‘SAB-378’.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-030

A synthetic cannabinoid of the naphthoylpyrrole family. It was reported to the EMCDDA in March 2013 by German authorities who detected it in a herbal smoking mixture also containing other (related) synthetic cannabinoids such as JWH-307 and JWH-145.

Synthetic cannabinoid A-834,735

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the cyclopropylindole family. It was reported to the EMCDDA in January 2013 by Polish authorities who detected it in herbal smoking mixtures labelled ‘Sunny’ and ‘June Up’.

Synthetic cannabinoid AM-679

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the benzoylindole family. It was reported to the EMCDDA in January 2012 by Italian authorities who detected it in a package of powder that was marked ‘AM XIAO’.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-081

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It emerged in Europe in June 2010 when it was reported to the EMCDDA by Latvia, Germany, Finland, Austria and Norway. It is frequently detected in herbal smoking mixtures, often in combination with other synthetic cannabinoids.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-122

A synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in July 2010 by Latvian authorities. It is still present in the market and is often found as a component of herbal smoking mixtures containing multiple synthetic cannabinoids. It has been associated with intoxications in several countries.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-182

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It was reported to the EMCDDA in February 2011 by Danish authorities. This is the only report of this substance in the context of the EU Early warning system.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-203

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the phenylacetylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in October 2010 by Latvian authorities. It has been found in bulk powders and in branded herbal smoking blends such as ‘Aura Chrome’ and ‘Jah RUSH’.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-210

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in September 2010 by German authorities and has been detected regularly in bulk powders and in herbal smoking mixtures. Interestingly, it has been detected in herbal cannabis samples.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-250

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the phenylacetylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in October 2009 by the German authorties and has remained in the market since then. It has been detected in bulk powders as well as in branded herbal smoking mixtures such as ‘Jamaican Gold’ and ‘Blast off’, frequently in combination with other synthetic cannabinoids.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-251

A synthetic cannabinoid from the phenylacetylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in February 2011 by German authorities when it was the sole cannabimimetic detected in a branded herbal smoking mixture called ‘Aura Silver’.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-387

A synthetic cannabinoid belonging to the naphthoylindole family. This brominated compound was reported to the EMCDDA in July 2011 by German authorities who detected it in a white powder. This is the only report of this substance in the context of the Early warning system.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-398

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA by the United Kingdom in October 2009 in 3 separate branded products, each time in combination with other cannabimimetic substances. It is not frequently reported to EMCDDA in the context of the EU Early warning system.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-412

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It was reported to the EMCDDA in August 2011 by the German authorities, however, it has not been reported by any other countries in the context of the EU Early warning system.

Synthetic cannabinoid RCS-4

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the benzoylindole family. The first formal notification to the EMCDDA was in July 2010 by Hungarian authorities, however, prior to this information had been received from Belarus regarding its detection. It is also known by the codenames ‘NRG-4’ and ‘DD001’. Other substances that have been detected with RCS-4 compounds are phenazepam and alphamethyltryptamine.

Synthetic cannabinoid RCS-4 ortho isomer

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the benzoylindole family. As the name suggests, it is closely related to RCS-4. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in April 2011 when it was detected in a sample of powder seized by Swedish authorities. Other substances that have been detected with RCS-4 compounds are phenazepam and alphamethyltryptamine.

Synthetic cannabinoid RCS-4 (C4)

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the benzoylindole family. As the name suggests, it is closely related to RCS-4, differing only by the length of the alkyl ‘tail’. It was reported to the EMCDDA in June 2011 by Hungarian authorities who detected it in a mixture with RCS-4. Other substances that have been detected with RCS-4 compounds are phenazepam and alphamethyltryptamine.

Synthetic cannabinoid UR-144

A synthetic cannabinoid of the tetramethylcyclopropyl indolyl ketone family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in February 2012 by Finland in a bulk powder and Poland in a branded herbal smoking mixture called ‘Magic Tree’. It acts as a selective agonist of the cannabinoid receptor CB2 and is often found in combination with other cannabimimetics. It is also known by the codenames ‘KM X-1’, ‘TMCP-018’, ‘MN-001’, ‘YX-17’.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-122 pentenyl 2-methylindole derivative

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. Its first and only report to the EMCDDA was in July 2012 when it was detected in the United Kingdom in a sample that contained other cannabimimetic components. It is thought that this substance may be produced during the synthesis of MAM-2201.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-122 pentenyl derivative

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. The first report to the EMCDDA was in July 2012 when it was detected in the United Kingdom in a sample that contained other cannabimimetic components. It is thought that this substance may be produced during the synthesis of MAM-2201.

Synthetic cannabinoid UR-144 (-2H)

A synthetic cannabinoid of the tetramethylcyclopropyl indolyl ketone family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in July 2012 by French authorities in branded herbal smoking mixtures called ‘Fire Ice’, ‘Pulse’, ‘Buzz’ and ‘Tribe’. It is thought that this substance may be produced during the synthesis of 5FUR-144.

Synthetic cannabinoid AB-005

A synthetic cannabinoid of the tetramethylcyclopropyl indolyl ketone family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in November 2012 by German authorities. It was detected in a branded herbal smoking mixture called ‘Star of Fire’. The azepane isomer of AB-005 was also detected in this product.

Synthetic cannabinoid AB-005 azepane isomer

A synthetic cannabinoid of the tetramethylcyclopropyl indolyl ketone family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in November 2012 by German authorities. It was detected in a branded herbal smoking mixture called ‘Star of Fire’ and is thought to be a by-product formed during the production of AB-005 (which was also found in the product).

Synthetic cannabinoid 3-(p-Methoxybenzoyl)-N-methylindole

A synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist belongs to the benzoylindole family. The one and only report of this substance to the EMCDDA is from Austria in February 2012 when it was detected in a branded herbal smoking mixture called ‘Brooker Limited Edition’. It is thought that this substance is a chemical intermediate formed during the production of RCS-4.

Synthetic cannabinoid UR-144 heptyl derivative

A synthetic cannabinoid of the tetramethylcyclopropyl indolyl ketone family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in April 2013 by Swedish authorities who detected it in a sample of white powder. It is thought that this substance will have similar properties to UR-144, as it differs only by the length of the alkyl ‘tail’.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-073

A synthetic cannabinoid belonging to the naphthoylindole family. It was first specifically reported to the EMCDDA by Denmark in March 2009 and has featured prominently in this market since then. It is similar to JWH-018, differing only in the length of the alkyl ‘tail’. It has been found in bulk powders, branded herbal smoking mixtures and also in resinous products. It is a controlled substances in many European countries.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-073 methyl derivative

A synthetic cannabinoid belonging to the naphthoylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in April 2010 by German authorities who identified it in a branded herbal smoking mixture called ‘King B’. It is not frequently found, the only other instance being reported by Italian authorities in a sample that also contained JWH-073.

Synthetic cannabinoid 5FUR-144

A synthetic cannabinoid of the tetramethylcyclopropyl indolyl ketone family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA by the Latvian authorities in February 2012. It has been found in the form of bulk powders as well as in herbal smoking mixtures and in resinous products. It is also known by the codename ‘XLR-11’.

Synthetic cannabinoid AM-694

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the benzoylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in July 2010 by the Irish authorities, having been detected in a herbal smoking product called ‘Shamrock’.

Synthetic cannabinoid AM-694 ethyl substituted for iodine

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the benzoylindole family. As the name suggests, it is closely related to AM-694. It was reported to the EMCDDA in July 2012 in a sample of herbal smoking mixture from the United Kingdom that contained other derivatives of AM-694 and is thought to be a by-product of attempts at synthetic cannabinoid production.

Synthetic cannabinoid AM-694 methyl substituted for iodine

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the benzoylindole family. As the name suggests, it is closely related to AM-694. It was reported to the EMCDDA in July 2012 in a sample of herbal smoking mixture from the United Kingdom that contained other derivatives of AM-694 and is thought to be a by-product of attempts at synthetic cannabinoid production.

Synthetic cannabinoid MAM-2201

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It can be viewed as either a ring-methylated derivative of AM-2201 or an alkyl-fluorinated version of JWH-122. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in June 2011 by authorities in the Netherlands, but is currently a common ingredient of herbal smoking mixtures containing other synthetic cannabinoids. It has been reported to be associated with acute transient psychotic episodes.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-007

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It was reported to the EMCDDA by German authorities in May 2011 having been detected in branded herbal smoking mixtures called “Sence” and “Oceanic Herbs”.

Synthetic cannabinoid EAM-2201

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It can be viewed as either a ring-ethylated derivative of AM-2201 or an alkyl-fluorinated version of JWH-210. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in February 2013 by Swedish authorities in a sample of powder. It has also been detected in herbal smoking mixtures in combination with other synthetic cannabinoids.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-015

A synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It has been reported to the EMCDDA only once, back in July 2010 when it was detected in a branded herbal smoking mixture called ‘Topaz’ by the authorities in Austria. The herbal material was identified as Damiana (Turnera diffusa).

Synthetic cannabinoid AM-694 chloro derivative

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the benzoylindole family. As the name suggests, it is closely related to AM-694. It was reported to the EMCDDA in December 2011 by German authorities who detected it in a branded herbal smoking mixture called ‘Atomic Bomb’. The product also contained the parent molecule AM-694.

Synthetic cannabinoid MAM-2201 chloropentyl derivative

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylindole family. It can be viewed as the alkyl-chlorinated derivative of JWH-122. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in July 2012 in a sample of herbal smoking mixture from the United Kingdom that contained other derivatives of AM-2201 and is thought to be a by-product of attempts at synthetic cannabinoid production.

Synthetic cannabinoid UR-144 N-(5-chloropentyl) derivative

A synthetic cannabinoid of the tetramethylcyclopropyl indolyl ketone family, similar in structure to 5FUR-144. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in December 2012 by Hungarian authorities and subsequently in April 2013 by Croatian authorities. In each case, other cannabinoids were present including 5FUR-144./p>

Synthetic cannabinoid A-796,260

A synthetic cannabinoid of the tetramethylcyclopropyl indolyl ketone family. It is structurally related to UR-144 and to 5FUR-144. It has been reported to the EMCDDA on one occasion by Belgian authorities. It acts as a selective potent agonist of the cannabinoid receptor CB2.

Synthetic cannabinoid WIN 48,098/ Pravadoline

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the benzoylindole family. It was detected in May 2011 by both the German and Polish authorities. It has been found in powders and in herbal smoking mixtures, sometimes in combination with other synthetic cannabinoids. It has been shown to be nephrotoxic in an animal model (dogs).

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-145

A synthetic cannabinoid of the naphthoylpyrrole family. It was reported to the EMCDDA in March 2013 by German authorities who detected it in a herbal smoking mixture also containing other (related) synthetic cannabinoids such as JWH-307 and JWH-030.

Synthetic cannabinoid AM-2233

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the benzoylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in August 2011 by Finnish authorities after it was detected in a seizure of white powder. It has also been detected in herbal smoking mixtures, on its own and in combination with other synthetic cannabinoids.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-250 1-(2-methylene-N-methyl-piperidyl) derivative

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the phenylacetylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in March 2011 by Polish authorities. It was found in combination with JWH-122 in twenty herbal smoking mixtures such as ‘Red Mercury’, ‘Aztec Thunder’, ‘Zen Ultra’ and ‘Zephyr’.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-307

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylpyrrole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in August 2011 by authorities in Finland. It was detected in a seizure of powder. It has since been detected in several countries in various herbal smoking blends and in combination with other synthetic cannabinoids.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-307 bromine derivative

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylpyrrole family. It was reported to the EMCDDA in March 2013 by German authorities who detected it in a herbal smoking mixture also containing other (related) synthetic cannabinoids such as JWH-307 and JWH-030.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-368

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylpyrrole family. It was reported to the EMCDDA by Latvian authorities in February 2013 after it was detected in a bulk quantity of herbal mixture which also contained AM-2201.

Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-370

A synthetic cannabinoid that belongs to the naphthoylpyrrole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in February 2012 by Finnish authorities who detected it in a small sample of powder.

AM-6527 5F derivative

A synthetic cannabinoid of the naphthyl indolecarboxamide family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in November 2013 when it was found in a herbal mixture with AM-6527 and MAM-2201.

AM-1248 azepane isomer

A synthetic cannabinoid belonging to the adamantoylindole family. Reported to hte EMCDDA in September 2013, it is thought to be a by-product formed during the production of AM-1248.

Synthetic cannabinoid XXXX

A synthetic cannabinoid from the phenylacetylindole family. It was first reported to the EMCDDA in February 2011 by German authorities when it was the sole cannabimimetic detected in a branded herbal smoking mixture called ‘Aura Silver’.

Sorry…

No additional information on this cannabinoid is currently available. We are in the process of updating our information base and this should be available shortly.

3. Facts and figures

  • 98 new psychoactive substances were reported to the EMCDDA in 2015, 24 of which were synthetic cannabinoids.
  • 160 synthetic cannabinoids in total are currently monitored by the EMCDDA through the EU Early Warning System.
  • 14 recognisable chemical families of synthetic cannabinoids are known.
  • 2008 — JWH-018 was the first synthetic cannabinoid to be detected in a ‘legal high’ product

4. Chemistry and naming of the synthetic cannabinoids 

Many of the synthetic cannabinoids monitored by the EMCDDA through the EU Early Warning System have code names that relate to their discovery. In some cases they are derived from the initials of the name of the scientists that first synthesised them: e.g. ‘JWH’ compounds after John W. Huffman and ‘AM’ compounds after Alexandros Makriyannis. In other cases code names may originate from the institution or company where they were first synthesised, the ‘HU’ series of synthetic cannabinoids being from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, or ‘CP’ from Carl Pfizer. In some cases names have probably been chosen by those making ‘legal high’ products to help market the products. Striking examples of this are ‘AKB-48’ and ‘2NE1’, alternative names used for APINACA and APICA. ‘AKB-48’ is the name of a popular Japanese girl band and ‘2NE1’ is the name of a girl band from South Korea. Finally, the synthetic cannabinoid XLR-11, appears to have been named after the first liquid fuel rocket developed in the USA for use in aircraft, perhaps alluding to the vendor’s intention for those who consume the substance. 

Many synthetic cannabinoids are now given code names that are derived from their long chemical names, such as APICA from N-(1-adamantyl)-1-pentyl-1H-indole- 3-carboxamide, and APINACA from N-(1-adamantyl)-1-pentyl-1H-indazole-3-carboxamide. The EMCDDA has systematised this method in order to apply it to newly emerging substances and show how the various constituent parts can be put together. The structures of many synthetic cannabinoids can be categorised into four components: tail, core, linker and linked group. Assigning each component a code name allows the chemical structure of the cannabinoid to be identified without the long chemical name. The proposed naming syntax for the synthetic cannabinoids that follow this pattern is as follows:

LinkedGroup – TailCoreLinker

Ordering the components in this manor follows the ordering as seen in their longer chemical names, as with APICA: N-(1-adamantyl)-1-pentyl-1H-indole-3-carboxamide. When a tail substituent is present (i.e. 5F), this will be displayed at the front of the name and linked group substituents will be placed before the linked group; core substituents will be placed at the end of the code.

Applying the new system to a recently notified synthetic cannabinoid:

chemical structure
N-(1-carbamoyl-2-methyl-propyl)-1-[(4-fluorophenyl)methyl] indazole-3-carboxamide
Current name: AB-FUBINACA New name: MABO-FUBINACA

The letter codes used are based not only on the letter used but the ordering of letters. For example, A identifies the amine in the linked group. CA identifies the carboxamide. By following the syntax and codes described, synthetic cannabinoids that follow this structure will have a unique short name. 

Find out more

Further reading

 

EMCDDA_POD_2013_Synthetic cannabinoids.pdf
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Page last updated: Monday, 28 November 2016