Original Article

Forensic Toxicology

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 61-66

First online:

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

  • Nahoko UchiyamaAffiliated withNational Institute of Health Sciences
  • , Ruri Kikura-HanajiriAffiliated withNational Institute of Health Sciences
  • , Nobuo KawaharaAffiliated withNational Institute of Health Sciences
  • , Yukihiro GodaAffiliated withNational Institute of Health Sciences Email author 

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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)indole Naphthalen-1-yl-(1-pentylindol-3-yl)methanone JWH-018 Cannabimimetic indole Designer drug Herbal product