“Spice“ refers to a variety of mixtures that produce experiences similar to cannabinoids known to be sold since at least 2006. ‘Spice’ products are often marked as safe and legal alternatives to cannabinoids and are advertised as “exotic incense blends which release a rich aroma“. Even if labels in such products claim that they contain natural psycho-active substances derived from plants, chemical analyses show that they do contain dried plant material, but their active ingredients are synthetic cannabinoids compounds.

Towards 2008, in fact, forensic investigations were undertaken worldwide in order to identify the psycho-active of ‘Spice’. JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH- 122 have been detected and identified. Some of these substances added to the ‘spice’ herbal mixtures are now controlled as drugs, and there are no information of any of them having been authorised as medical products. Moreover, there are no officially published safety data and almost nothing is known about their effects on humans. For these potential health concerns, different countries have taken legal actions to ban or otherwise regulate ‘spice’ products and related compounds. This action has become necessary because during the last few years ‘spice’ products have become very popular, especially among young people. Easy access (internet, head shops, gas stations), along with the misperception that ‘spice’ products are natural and therefore harmless, have contributed to their popularity.

It is, therefore, important to notice that the chemicals used in ‘Spice’ products are not easily detectable in standard drug tests. The present work, carried out in collaboration with the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences “Pietro Pratesi“ (university of Milan), offers a method of analysis and quantification for JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-122, and JWH-XXX.


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