VIENNA, Austria – June 2017: Synthetic cannabinoids are not simply synthetic versions of the substances occurring in herbal cannabis, as street names such as “synthetic cannabis” or “synthetic marijuana” may suggest. They are a diverse group of potent psychoactive compounds that are designed to mimic the desired effects of cannabis, of which there are also many new products on the market.
Recently, there has been growing recognition of the harm of intoxication that can result from synthetic cannabinoid use. The use of some products containing certain synthetic cannabinoids has been associated with severe adverse health events including hospitalisations and fatalities. Further intoxications and fatal cases associated with the use of synthetic cannabinoids so far might have remained undetected due to toxicological knowledge gaps, particularly of newly emerging substances, and the interaction between synthetic cannabinoids and other drugs.
Figure 1. Examples of chemical modifications leading to new synthetic cannabinoids
Source: UNODC, responses to annual report questionnaire, 2010-2015.
Note: Contains seizures in the form of herbal material, as well as powder and liquids.
For more information, please see:
UNODC “World Drug Report 2017”