Ischemic stroke after use of the synthetic marijuana "spice"

Neurology. 2013 Dec 10;81(24):2090-3. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000437297.05570.a2. Epub 2013 Nov 8.


Objectives: To report and associate acute cerebral infarctions in 2 young, previously healthy siblings with use of the street drug known as "spice" (a synthetic marijuana product, also known as "K2"), which they independently smoked before experiencing acute embolic-appearing ischemic strokes.

Methods: We present history, physical examination, laboratory data, cerebrovascular imaging, echocardiogram, ECG, and hospital course of these patients.

Results: We found that in both siblings spice was obtained from the same source. The drug was found to contain the schedule I synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018. Full stroke workup was unrevealing of a stroke etiology; urine drug screen was positive for marijuana.

Conclusions: We found that our 2 patients who smoked the street drug spice had a temporal association with symptoms of acute cerebral infarction. This association may be confounded by contaminants in the product consumed (i.e., marijuana or an unidentified toxin) or by an unknown genetic mechanism. The imaging of both patients suggests an embolic etiology, which is consistent with reports of serious adverse cardiac events with spice use, including tachyarrhythmias and myocardial infarctions.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Ischemia / chemically induced*
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / adverse effects*
  • Indoles / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Naphthalenes / adverse effects*
  • Stroke / chemically induced*
  • Stroke / diagnosis
  • Young Adult


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Indoles
  • Naphthalenes
  • 1-pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole