Synthetic cannabinoids, a large, chemically heterogeneous group of psychoactive substances known as “legal highs”, includes various aromatic herbs treated with a mixture of artificially synthesized cannabinoids. The popularity of synthetic cannabinoids, despite the restrictive legislative measures and the medical consequences associated with the use, is growing annually among consumers.
Synthetic cannabinoids are designed to replicate the psychoactive effects of D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (D9-THC or THC) synthesized from plant hemp. Shadow manufacturers of synthetic cannabinoids constantly bypass the legislative restrictions adopted in many countries of the world, synthesizing new substances with a modified chemical formula, and accompanying products with the words “not for ingestion,” “not swallow,” “not for human use” —that brings many legal problems.
In the past 3-4 years, the number of hospitalizations for urgent indications associated with the use of synthetic cannabinoids has increased, and the number of deaths directly related to the use of synthetic cannabinoids also increases. This situation emphasizes the need to reorganize the emergency system for this group of patients and shows the unpreparedness of the professional community to enter the shadow market of this group of psychoactive substances. Some steps in a number of European countries have already been taken towards monitoring and controlling the spread of new psychoactive substances.
In the 1970s, in the scientific laboratories of several countries, synthetic cannabinoids were first synthesized to study the human endocannabinoid system, as well as to develop new methods for treating pain in cancer pathology. In 2003-2004, substances called “spice” first appeared on the shadow markets of Great Britain, Germany, and Switzerland. This term, according to some authors, came from the works of Frank Herbert, in particular, the novel “Dune”, where the characters used a special mixture that facilitates their interstellar travel.
Initially, this group of substances was distributed among consumers who love “everything new and experiments.” During the period described, German and Austrian researchers were among the first to type the composition of new psychoactive substances: it was the aminoalkylindole JWH-018. It is this substance that was found in spice samples, in various proportions and combinations.
Synthetic cannabinoids of the first or second generation are designated by the first letters of the names of scientists in whose laboratories they were first synthesized: JWH-John W. Huffman; AM-Alexandros Makriyannis; CP – Carl Pfizer; HU – Hebrew University (Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel). The substances that are part of the third generation of synthetic cannabinoids got their name after the first letters of the chemical compound: APICA (2NE1, SDB-001, N- (1-adamantyl) -1-pentyl-1H-indole-3-carboxamide; CHMINACA: N- [ [1- (cyclohexylméthyl) -1H-indazol-3-yl] carbonyl] -3-methyl-L-valine). In various countries of the world, synthetic cannabinoids have many slang names used in the subculture of consumers.
5F-MDMB-2201 (also known as MDMB-2201) is an indole-based synthetic cannabinoid. In the shadow market, synthetic cannabinoids are presented in the form of tablets, capsules, powder, mixtures for smoking. They can also be presented in the form of a special paste for chewing. Relatively recently, there appeared in liquid forms for smoking with the help of electronic cigarettes. Currently, the dose of spice in a package weighing about 3 grams, in the United States costs around $45, in European countries it costs 35 euros.