Forensic Toxicology

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 94–107 | Cite as

Identification and quantification of synthetic cannabinoids in “spice-like” herbal mixtures: update of the German situation for the spring of 2015

  • Nico Langer
  • Rainer Lindigkeit
  • Hans-Martin Schiebel
  • Uli Papke
  • Ludger Ernst
  • Till Beuerle
Original Article


In February 2015, 13 “spice-like” products, available on the German market, were analyzed. In total, eight different synthetic cannabinoids were identified by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS), namely 5-fluoro-AB-PINACA, AB-CHMINACA, AB-FUBINACA, 5-fluoro-PB-22, 5-fluoro-AMB, MDMB-CHMICA, EAM-2201 and STS-135. In most of the products (11/13), only one synthetic cannabinoid was identified, while two products contained two or three synthetic cannabinoids. For some of the compounds (5-fluoro-AB-PINACA, AB-CHMINACA, 5-fluoro-AMB) only insufficient physicochemical data are available in literature. To our knowledge MDMB-CHMICA (sometimes mistakenly referred to as MBMD-CHMINACA) was not described earlier in scientific literature, and, hence, an in-depth characterization of these compounds by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, electron ionization–mass spectroscopy, electrospray ionization–tandem mass spectroscopy (ESI-MS/MS), infrared spectroscopy and ultraviolet spectroscopy was conducted for eight compounds. In addition, we developed an ESI-MS method for the direct quantification of synthetic cannabinoids in commercial smoking blends, without chromatographic separation. Quantification was achieved using methyl 3-(3-(1-naphthoyl)-1H-indol-1-yl)propionate as the internal standard with appropriate response factors. The total contents of synthetic cannabinoids in the investigated products ranged from 60 to 446 mg/g, while individual compounds ranged from 12 to 314 mg/g.


Synthetic cannabinoids MDMB-CHMICA 5-Fluoro-AB-PINACA AB-CHMINACA AB-FUBINACA German situation 



This work was supported by Zentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand (ZIM) des Bundesministeriums für Wirtschaft und Energie (BMWI) FKZ: KF31565015K3. The authors express their gratitude to Lisa Sieverling, Judith Carla Schürmann and Kerstin Ollenborger for their helpful assistance.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no financial or other relations that could lead to a conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

11419_2015_292_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (781 kb)
Supplementary Material (PDF 781 kb)


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Copyright information

© Japanese Association of Forensic Toxicology and Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nico Langer
    • 1
  • Rainer Lindigkeit
    • 1
  • Hans-Martin Schiebel
    • 2
  • Uli Papke
    • 2
  • Ludger Ernst
    • 3
  • Till Beuerle
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Pharmaceutical BiologyTechnische Universität BraunschweigBrunswickGermany
  2. 2.Chemistry Department, Central Mass Spectrometry LaboratoryTechnische Universität BraunschweigBrunswickGermany
  3. 3.Chemistry Department, Central NMR LaboratoryTechnische Universität BraunschweigBrunswickGermany

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