“Recreational use of marijuana is associated with few adverse effects, but abuse of synthetic cannabinoids (SCBs) can result in anxiety, psychosis, chest pain, seizures and death.
To potentially explain higher toxicity associated with SCB use, we hypothesized that AB-PINACA, a common second generation SCB, exhibits atypical pharmacodynamic properties at CB1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1Rs) and/or a distinct metabolic profile when compared to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), the principal psychoactive cannabinoid present in marijuana.
Taken collectively, the atypical pharmacodynamic properties of AB-PINACA at CB1Rs relative to Δ9-THC (e.g., higher potency/efficacy and greater production of desensitization), coupled with an unusual metabolic profile (e.g., production of metabolically stable active phase I metabolites) may contribute to the pronounced adverse effects observed with abuse of this SCB compared to marijuana.
““K2” or “Spice” is a popular drug of abuse that is heavily marketed to young teens and first-time drug users as “safe” and/or “legal” marijuana”. Most K2 preparations consist of plant materials laced with a mixture of one or more SCB compounds possessing psychoactive properties similar to those produced by Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), the principal psychoactive compound found in marijuana. However, in contrast to the low incidence of adverse effects reported following use of marijuana, recreational abuse of SCBs can additionally result in anxiety, psychosis, chest pain, seizures and death.
In marked contrast to K2/Spice products, marijuana contains only a single psychoactive compound Δ9-THC and a second natural constituent known as cannabidiol, that appears to blunt adverse effects produced by Δ9-THC. In fact, the beneficial combination of cannabidiol with Δ9-THC led to development of Sativex, a drug currently in clinical trials to treat a variety of indications including spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.
In addition to Δ9-THC and cannabidiol, the cannabis plant contains hundreds of other phytocannabinoids and constituents not present in K2/Spice products that may help mitigate harmful and/or adverse effects ”