Forensic Toxicology

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 61–66

Identification of a cannabimimetic indole as a designer drug in a herbal product


  • Nahoko Uchiyama
    • National Institute of Health Sciences
  • Ruri Kikura-Hanajiri
    • National Institute of Health Sciences
  • Nobuo Kawahara
    • National Institute of Health Sciences
    • National Institute of Health Sciences
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11419-009-0069-y

Cite this article as:
Uchiyama, N., Kikura-Hanajiri, R., Kawahara, N. et al. Forensic Toxicol (2009) 27: 61. doi:10.1007/s11419-009-0069-y


A cannabimimetic indole has been identified as a new adulterant in a herbal product being sold illegally in Japan for its expected narcotic effect. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analyses indicated that the product contained two major compounds. One was identified as a cannabinoid analog (1RS,3SR)-3-[4-(1,1-dimethyloctyl)-2-hydroxyphenyl]cyclohexan-1-ol (1) by direct comparison with the authentic compound, which we reported previously. The other compound (2) showed a molecular weight of 341 daltons, and accurate mass spectral measurements showed its elemental composition to be C24H23NO. Both mass and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometric data revealed that 2 was 1-pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole [or naphthalen-1-yl-(1-pentylindol-3-yl)methanone] being identical to JWH-018, which was synthesized by Wiley and coworkers in 1998. This compound was reported as a potent cannabinoid receptor agonist possessing a pharmacological cannabimimetic activity.


1-Pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indoleNaphthalen-1-yl-(1-pentylindol-3-yl)methanoneJWH-018Cannabimimetic indoleDesigner drugHerbal product

Copyright information

© Japanese Association of Forensic Toxicology 2009