Synthetic Cannabinoids

Category: Hallucinogen

Also know as:

Annihilation, Spice


Products like ‘Spice’ are likely to contain synthetic cannabinoids which is a chemical produced to mimic the psychoactive effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active compound in cannabis. Herbal smoking mixtures tend to be a mix of inert plant ingredients that are sprayed with synthetic cannabinoid compounds. There is nothing natural or herbal about these compounds, they are man-made. Similar to cannabis, comes as leaves, stalks and seeds.

How it is taken

Synthetic cannabinoids are normally used in a similar way to cannabis. They can be mixed with tobacco, rolled up into a spliff or joint, and then smoked. They can be smoked without tobacco using a pipe or bong. As e-cigarettes have become more available, there are reports of some people using e-cig technology for synthetic cannabinoids, and that e-liquids containing synthetic cannabinoids have been produced that can be used with normal e-cigs. They can also be swallowed, eaten with food or made into a drink.


Synthetic cannabinoids mimic the psychoactive effects of THC, although the effects can be much stronger than natural cannabis. People taking them can experience enhanced sensations and a feeling of heaviness as well as a rapid heart rate, nausea, anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks and feeling withdrawn. People have also reported a strong urge to redose and an increase in mental health issues when using these substances.


Short term:

The chemical composition and ingredients of herbal products like ‘Spice’ are changing all the time, and there are a wide range of possible synthetic cannabinoids that could be used, which is why you can never be sure what you’re getting or how it will affect you.

Be aware, only forensic testing will identify if synthetic cannabinoids are in these ‘herbal smoking’ products. You can’t trust the labelling. Even if the label says it’s free of synthetic cannabinoids it might not be.

Long term:

Regular use of products containing stronger synthetic cannabinoids may increase the risk of later developing psychotic illnesses including schizophrenia.

Experts are concerned that ‘Spice’ products containing synthetic cannabinoids have the potential to be more harmful than cannabis due to the way they are made and because the compounds present and their potency will be unknown to the user.

Legal Status

Products like ‘Spice’ which contain synthetic cannabinoids are Class B controlled drugs. This means that it is against the law to possess them, to give them away or to sell them. Possession can get you up to five years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. Supplying can get you up to fourteen years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

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