Synthetic Cannabinoids, marketed sometimes as incense are dangerous untested THC analogues often sprayed onto botanical material and have included alkylindole, cyclohexylphenol, and indazole carboxamide. Generations of synthetic cannabinoids have cycled through popularity, as new ones routinely emerge, especially after compound level scheduling.

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"Our office is able to stay on top of the latest street drugs because we send samples to one of the leading toxicology labs in the country, NMS Labs."

-DuPage County Coroner



Assumed to be chemically similar to the primary psychoactive substance in marijuana—tetrahydrocannabinol or THC—synthetic cannabinoids are often mistakenly thought of as synthetic marijuana or fake weed. In truth, synthetic cannabinoids are far more dangerous, unregulated, unpredictable, addictive, and even life-threatening. Because these substances are not regulated or tested, users have no assurance as to uniformity of dosage, concentration, or strength, and the precise ingredients of these chemicals are often unknown.

The adverse effects from abuse of synthetic cannabinoids can include agitation, anxiety, hallucinations, vomiting, elevated blood pressure and heart rate (tachycardia), unconsciousness, numbness, tremors, and seizures. Warnings have been issued by poison control centers and state public health departments in response to known reported adverse health effects associated with the use of herbal incense products containing these synthetic cannabinoids.

Sometimes ingested with food, added to herbal tea, or liquified and vaped in the form of e-cigarettes, these chemicals are more often sprayed onto shredded plant-based materials (again resembling marijuana) and smoked. Various names for synthetic cannabinoids include K2, Kush, Spice.

Since the 2012 Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act (SDAPA), cannabimimetic agents, including over 15 synthetic cannabinoid compounds, 12 synthetic cathinone compounds (primarily mephedrone, methylone, and MDPV), and nine synthetic hallucinogens known as the 2C family, are restricted or scheduled by law under amendments to Title 21 United States Code (USC) Controlled Substances Act. This legislation drove down the popularity of the covered substances, but new substances emerged as replacements. The short lifespans and constant shifts in positivity challenges the drug-monitoring community.

As a leading national forensic toxicology laboratory, NMS Labs conducts forensic and clinical toxicology testing including medical legal investigations such as postmortem toxicology for various derived, designer, or synthetic cannabinoids.

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Discuss your toxicology laboratory testing needs and our postmortem toxicology services for NPS, designer drugs, and synthetic analogs with our staff of licensed forensic toxicologists. New and returning clients get phone and email support and can set up exclusive secure access to their account in our convenient online client portal.

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