UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: Synthetic Marijuana - What is it?

Keywords: THC, marijuana (PubMed Search)

Posted: 2/18/2011 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Updated: 6/14/2024)
Click here to contact Fermin Barrueto, MD


Sold under the name of K2, Spice. Patients exposed to this will present with dry mouth, paranoia, tachycardia, hallucinations but will resolved rather quickly over several hours. Observation in the ED and supportive care is usually all that is needed. A little history about synthetic marijuana:


  • JWH-018 is a synthetic cannabinoid (SC) that acts at cannabinoid receptors.
  • Synthetic cannabinoids were created s in the 1960’s and continued to be developed as appetite stimulants (e.g., dronabinol).
  • The JWH series of SCs are named for the chemist who first synthesized them, John W. Huffman, Ph.D. (thus the JWH prefix).
  • SCs recently appeared for sale in smoke shops and other outlets (such as gas stations) as herbal incense.
  • These products contain plant material that mimics smell and appearance of marijuana but is adulterated with one or more SCs.


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