Spice drugs as a new trend: mode of action, identification and legislation

Toxicol Lett. 2010 Sep 1;197(3):157-62. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2010.06.002. Epub 2010 Jun 8.


The present review highlights the existing monitoring and legislation status of synthetic cannabinoids in "Spice" products and alert research community about the identification and risk assessment problems of these compounds. Available data were collected by various literature search engines. All valuable information about psychoactive properties, safety profile, clinical data and detection problems for synthetic cannabinoids and their use as "herbal highs" were managed to spot and summarise. "Spice" contains synthetic cannabinoids that bind to cannabinnoid-like receptors and they are stronger than natural cannabis. Chronic abuse of "Spice" has linked with signs of addiction syndrome and withdrawal symptoms similar to syndromes observed in cannabis abuse. These cannabinoids can be considered as new products to be added to the list of "designer drugs". Although it remains unclear where and how the actual production of the herbal mixtures takes place, it is evident that producers are purposely risk the health of consumers to skim high profits. Only recently a number of countries in Europe, as well as in US and Canada banned the use of these substances. The difficulty in identification of related compounds leads to the necessity for the availability of reference standards in order to aid toxicological analyses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cannabinoids / chemistry*
  • Cannabinoids / toxicity*
  • Designer Drugs / chemistry*
  • Designer Drugs / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Substance-Related Disorders


  • Cannabinoids
  • Designer Drugs