Spice drugs: Cannabinoids as a new designer drugs

Cristina Mustata, Marta Torrens, Ricardo Pardo, Clara Pérez, Fabrizio Schifano, Paolo Deluca, Zoe Davey, Ornella Corazza, Marta Torrens, Arvid Skutle, Liv Flesland, Lucia Di Furia, Stefania Pagani, Valentina Minelli, Miia Mannonen, Teuvo Peltoniemi, Aino Majava, Norbert Scherbaum, Holger Siemann, Peer Van Der KreeftMagi Farré

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Some smokable herbal mixtures under the brand name Spice drugs have been sold on the Internet and in specialised shops (smart shops) since 2004. The mixtures are advertised as an exotic incense blend which releases a rich aroma and not for human consumption. When smoked, Spice drugs products have been reported by some users to have effects similar to those of cannabis. Spice drugs have received intensive attention in drug forums due to the possibility to obtain a non legal substitute of cannabis. Forensic analyses have found different potent synthetic cannabinoid agonists in some Spice drugs products, as JWH-018, CP 47497, JWH-073 and HU-210. There are few data about its pharmacological properties in animals, but nothing about its toxicity. At present, almost nothing is known about the pharmacology, toxicology and safety profile of such compounds in humans, except the opinions of consumers in internet forums. Neither the herbal ingredients of Spice drugs, nor any of the synthetic cannabinoids found in them, are internationally controlled under the 1961 or 1971 UN drug control conventions. Some European countries have recently taken legal actions to ban or otherwise control Spice drugs products and related compounds. These cannabinoid substances can be considered as new products to be added to the list of "designer drugs".
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-186
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • CP 47497
  • HU-210
  • JWH-018
  • JWH-073
  • Spice drugs
  • Synthetic cannabinoids designer drugs


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