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Int J Drug Policy. 2011 Jul;22(4):274-7. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2011.02.006. Epub 2011 Apr 8.

The impact of changes in UK classification of the synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists in 'Spice'.

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1
Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners, London, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Spice is the iconic brand name of a smokeable herbal mixture containing synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists. It has been available on the Internet/in head shops in Europe since at least 2006. The synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist constituents of Spice were classified in the UK as Class B agents in December 2009. This study assessed the impact of this legislation on the synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists present in Spice products and whether new synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists outside of the legislation are now available.

METHODS:

Spice products were bought, prior to and after the change in the UK legislation, from a range of Internet legal high websites selling to UK consumers. Products were analysed using liquid chromatography high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry (LCMSMS). Identification of the synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist(s) detected was made by comparison to existing databases or by 'in silico' methods.

RESULTS:

Sixteen products were purchased prior to the UK control of synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists; all contained at least one synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist. 20 products were purchased after the UK control; no active compounds were detected in 3 (15%). The remaining 17 (85%) all contained at least one classified synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist. Additionally, 2 synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists not covered under current UK generic legislation (AM-694 and the 'novel Belarus compound') were detected.

CONCLUSION:

Despite the UK 'Spice' classification, classified synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists continue to be supplied over the Internet to UK users. Furthermore, new synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists not covered by the legislation are appearing. Consideration needs to be given to reviewing the UK legislation so that suppliers cannot circumvent it by supplying legal alternatives to the classified synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists.

PMID:
21482092
DOI:
10.1016/j.drugpo.2011.02.006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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