Previously Undetectable Synthetic Marijuana Can Now Be Identified; Arizona Lab Norchem Also Reports Geographical Trends Where Abuse Is Higher Than Normal
FLAGSTAFF, AZ–(Marketwire – November 18, 2010) – Fake or synthetic marijuana users beware. Now there’s a test for that.
Norchem has developed a lab-based test that definitively confirms the presence in urine of JWH-018, JWH-019, JWH-073 and JWH-250, the four most commonly seen forms of synthetic marijuana, street named Spice or K2. The test was developed primarily for the criminal justice system including drug courts, probation, parole and treatment centers. Recent testing research at the Arizona lab also reveals increased abuse and geographical trends of fake marijuana.
The new marijuana-like drugs, often called Spice or K2, are chemical compounds that mimic the hallucinogenic effects of marijuana but are much more powerful. There are 12-14 new drugs in this category and depending on the drugs’ properties and how they are applied (typically spraying on tobacco, potpourri or herbs), they can be between 5 and 700 times more powerful than marijuana. Symptoms such as elevated heart rate, intense anxiety, agitation and even seizures or convulsions have been observed.
Routine drug screenings, like Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA) and Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA), do not detect the presence of Spice/K2. These popular smoking products also go by the name of: Genie, Smoke, Red Dragon, Buzz, Spice 99, Voodoo, Pulse, Hush, Mystery, Earthquake, Black Mamba, Stinger and others. They are sold in smoke shops, head shops, and convenience and liquor stores throughout the United States. Because of its widespread availability, Spice can be purchased by anyone in the general public including employees, students and individuals that are court ordered to not use mind or behavior altering substances.
“We’ve re-tested several hundred randomly pulled specimens from our laboratory and found that over 60% detected the presence of synthetic cannabinoids,” commented Bill Gibbs, Norchem CEO. “These specimens had previously tested negative for drugs of abuse. We consider this significant abuse, three to four times the rate of other illegal compounds that we routinely test. We also have compiled key geographic trends where abuse of Spice/K2 is very prevalent, mainly Nevada, Colorado, southern Arizona, Kansas, and southern California.”
Each of these chemical compounds produces metabolites in the body, which can be extracted from urine and tested using LCMSMS (liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry), the most sophisticated technology available today. The tests reveal data qualitatively (detected or not detected).
These chemical compounds are legal in most states and not federally controlled in the U.S. but have been labeled a “drug and chemical of concern” by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). For the most part, they have been banned in Europe.
“We consider teenage and college age groups most at risk,” continued Gibbs. “But also those people who simply want to continue drug use but are afraid of judicial consequences are apt to turn to this. In today’s environment, standard screening for street drugs will not detect Spice/K2. But it’s a quickly growing problem, and we encourage law enforcement, drug courts, probation and social services agencies to request testing. They may be shocked to see the abuse levels in these drugs.”