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Risk of Serious Harm from use of Synthetic Cannabis preparations

charles shepherd

Senior Member
Risk of Serious Harm from the use Synthetic Cannabis:

I know that some people with ME/CFS use cannabis to help with pain relief - sometimes with good effect

Here is an important warning about the use of synthetic cannabis that has just been issued to health professionals by NHS England:


This alert advises of the availability of herbal mixtures and powders sold as cannabis substitutes that contain powerful and harmful chemicals that have led to hospitalisations in this country and to deaths in other European countries.

You should be alert to the increased possibility of toxicity arising from synthetic cannabinoid use, able to recognise possible symptoms of that toxicity and respond accordingly.2

Synthetic cannabinoids
These drugs (sometimes called “Spice”) are intended to mimic the effects of cannabis and are so-called synthetic cannabinoids or synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists.

They are commonly sold sprayed onto inert herbal material. They are also sold as powder to be added to cigarettes by users.

The most harmful chemicals may be in brands like Vertex, Sweet Leaf Obliteration and Skyhigh but other brands also contain them. Brand names and what they contain are likely to change over time.

The chemicals currently causing the most concern are AB-CHMINICA, and MMB-CHMINACA (also known as MDMB-CHMICA).

These are currently not controlled drugs.

Hospitalisations have occurred recently in North Wales, Lancashire and Cheshire after young people have used these drugs.

Deaths have been reported in Germany and Sweden.

Actions advised

Recent reports from people affected suggest that acute toxicity is likely to present as dizziness, persistent nausea or vomiting, chest pains, dyspnea, fast or irregular heartbeat and convulsions.

These effects should be managed symptomatically and may need urgent referral to A&E.

Less severe or less acute physical or psychological problems should be assessed and managed symptomatically as for any other users of psychoactive drugs.

If you are asked for advice by people taking, or thinking of taking, synthetic cannabis, the following is suggested:

 The best advice is to not take drugs, as they can be dangerous

 Taking any herbal mixture or powder when you don’t know what’s in it is a big risk

 Up to date information for people considering using drugs, including advice on reducing risk, is available from www.talktofrank.com or from their helpline on 0800 77 66 00.

For further advice, medical professionals can use the National Poisons Information Service 24-hour telephone service or its online database, TOXBASE.

Professor Paul Cosford


Senior Member
Synthetic pot is overtly dangerous. One report I read suggested that the ingredients may include expired veterinary drugs purchased at waste-disposal prices.

Other than the legal hazard (which is, in practice, often lower than it may appear) natural MJ is a particularly safe substance. It might be unpleasant for those not suited to it, but actual harm is genuinely rare.


Senior Member
The synthetics are popular because they are either legal, or they inhabit in a sort of legal grey area, depending on the state. They can be purchased over the counter at many head shops and gas stations, and can be ordered over the internet.

They are made from whatever vaguely psychoactive substances are cheaply available, sprayed onto some sort of dried herbs. Sometimes the active ingredients are recently-invented compounds (designer drugs) or sometimes it's just a mix of whatever inexpensive human or veteranary drugs happen to be at hand.

Young people feel invulnerable (I know I did) and they overlook the risk.


Senior Member
Fragelle rock, USA
Something to note about mmj. In the U.S., any dr who prescribes opioid pain meds may be required to give you a ua test. If you test positive or admit to using mmj you are now a high risk for opioid a use.

You may not ever be allowed to receive opioid pain meds