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

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


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.


Cannabinoid Cannabinoid receptor 1 Marijuana ‘Spice’ Synthetic marijuana THC 





2-Arachidonoyl glycerol


Alexandros Makriyannis


Cannabinoid receptor type-1


Cannabinoid receptor type-2




Compound Pfizer


Conditioned place preference


Endocannabinoid system


Emergency room


Hebrew University






Intra-cranial self-stimulation


John W. Huffman


medial forebrain bundle







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
    Email author
  • Jimit Girish Raghav
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Center for Drug Discovery (CDD)Northeastern UniversityBostonUSA

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