Objective: UR-144 [(1-pentyl-1H-indol-3-yl)(2,2,3,3-tetramethylcyclopropyl)-methanone] is a synthetic cannabinoid, which has been detected in many "legal highs" seized from the global drug market since the beginning of 2012. It gained popularity as a "legal" alternative to classic cannabis in countries where it was not controlled. The popularity of UR-144 means that this substance is also abused by individuals driving motor vehicles. This article describes a case of driving under the influence (DUI) of UR-144. The aim of the undertaken case analysis and presenting description of pharmacological similarity of THC and UR-144 is to answer the question whether UR-144 can produce effects incompatible with safe driving.
Methods: Blood from the driver was obtained by a physician approximately 2 h after the collision and 4.5 h after self-reported dosing. Police from the crash site provided behavioral observations, and the physician performed medical examination. Blood was analyzed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The developed method was described in detail. The method was linear in the range of 0.5-50 ng/mL; the precision and accuracy values obtained were less than 15%. The symptoms observed by police and physician who collected the blood sample were described.
Results: In the blood sample collected from the driver, UR-144 and its major pyrolysis product [1-(1-pentyl-1H-indol-3-yl)-3-methyl-2-(propan-2-yl)but-3-en-1-one] were detected. Whole-blood concentration of UR-144 was 14.6 ng/mL. The result of blood analysis and observed symptoms clearly indicated that the driver was under the influence of UR-144.
Conclusions: UR-144 produces effects and impairment similar to or even more dangerous than delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ(9)-THC), making it unsafe for driving. Therefore, UR-144 should be treated as a potentially dangerous substance in traffic safety.
Keywords: LC-MS/MS; UR-144; analysis; driving under the influence of drugs (DUID); synthetic cannabinoids.