Technical Note Spotlight: Analyzing Metabolites of Synthetic Cannabinoids

Spice, K2, potpourri, Black Mamba: whatever you call synthetic marijuana, its effects are the same—and scary.

Originally manufactured as research chemicals, the designer drugs—mimicking the effects of authentic marijuana—are sprayed onto an herbal base. (Its physical similarity to potpourri is how it got one of its many nicknames.) It can then be eaten or smoked.

Donna Bush, a forensic toxicology specialist for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, told Newsweek, “They are marketed in a way that frankly does not portray how dangerous they are.”

Synthetic marijuana has been linked to thousands of hospitalizations in the last five years, with most of those afflicted ranging from ages 12 to 17. Effects like vomiting, paranoia, increased heart rate, and psychosis have been observed after ingesting the substance. Emily Bauer made news in 2011 when her regular K2 habit landed her in a coma. Though Bauer survived, she now suffers from cortical blindness and paralysis.

“You never know what you’re getting,” Bush continued. “Every little bag, every little package can be different because there’s no standardization, there’s no quality control. These are all products made on the fly.”

In this Technical Note, a new targeted metabolomic approach is described for assessing human synthetic cannabinoid exposure and pharmacology in blood and urine samples.


Related resources:

Synthetic Cannabinoids and their Metabolites from Urine by LC/MS/MS
Cannabinoids from Oral Fluid by SPE and LC/MS/MS
Chiral Separation of Synthetic Cannabinoid Metabolites
Extraction and GC/MS Analysis of Cannabinoids from Brownies Using roQ QuEChERS Extraction Salts and a Zebron ZB-5MSplus GC Column
Fast and Accurate Analysis of 6 Cannabinoids
Screening and Confirmation of Synthetic Cannabinoid Urinary Metabolites Using Kinetex Core-Shell Columns and a Luna Fully Porous Column
Separation of Six Naturally Occurring Cannabinoids at High pH Using a Kinetex 2.6µm EVO C18 Core-Shell Column

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