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Tripping with Synthetic Cannabinoids (“Spice”): Anecdotal and Experimental Observations in Animals and Man

  • Torbjörn U. C. Järbe
  • Jimit Girish Raghav
Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN, volume 32)

Abstract

The phenomenon of consuming synthetic cannabinoids (“Spice”) for recreational purposes is a fairly recent trend. However, consumption of cannabis dates back millennia, with numerous accounts written on the experience of its consumption, and thousands of scientific reports published on the effects of its constituents in laboratory animals and humans. Here, we focus on consolidating the scientific literature on the effects of “Spice” compounds in various behavioral assays, including assessing abuse liability, tolerance, dependence, withdrawal, and potential toxicity. In most cases, the behavioral effects of “Spice” compounds are compared with those of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Methodological aspects, such as modes of administration and other logistical issues, are also discussed. As the original “Spice” molecules never were intended for human consumption, scientifically based information about potential toxicity and short- and long-term behavioral effects are very limited. Consequently, preclinical behavioral studies with “Spice” compounds are still in a nascent stage. Research is needed to address the addiction potential and other effects, including propensity for producing tissue/organ toxicity, of these synthetic cannabimimetic “Spice” compounds.

Keywords

Cannabinoid Cannabinoid receptor 1 Marijuana ‘Spice’ Synthetic marijuana THC 

Abbreviations

11-OH-THC

11-Hydroxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol

2-AG

2-Arachidonoyl glycerol

AM

Alexandros Makriyannis

CB1R

Cannabinoid receptor type-1

CB2R

Cannabinoid receptor type-2

CBD

Cannabidiol

CP

Compound Pfizer

CPP

Conditioned place preference

ECS

Endocannabinoid system

ER

Emergency room

HU

Hebrew University

i.p.

Intraperitoneal

i.v.

Intravenous

ICSS

Intra-cranial self-stimulation

JWH

John W. Huffman

MFB

medial forebrain bundle

SA

Self-administration

THC

Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol

Notes

Acknowledgements

Preparation of this manuscript was defrayed in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse grant 5RO1DA 009064-19 as well as other NIH/NIDA funds awarded to the CDD. We thank Dr K. Vemuri for his help with chemistry related issues, including preparing Figs. 2 and 3 and Dr. J.L. Wiley for editorial suggestions. “Disclosure Statement”: Authors declare that there is no actual or potential conflict of interest related to this manuscript. “Role of the funding source(s)”: Authors declare that the study sponsor did not have any role in study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication.

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Torbjörn U. C. Järbe
    • 1
  • Jimit Girish Raghav
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Center for Drug Discovery (CDD)Northeastern UniversityBostonUSA

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