Tag: marijuana

The Chemistry of Cannabis & Synthetic Cannabinoids

Infographic on cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids. The main psychoactive compound in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which acts on cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Synthetic cannabinoids were synthesised to investigate potential medicinal uses of cannabis and target the same receptors, but have a higher efficacy. Little is known about their effect in humans and there is a risk of a number of serious side effects. Synthetic cannabinoids can be grouped into three major groups: Classical (similar in structure to THC), aminoalkylindoles (further split into a number of subcategories) and non-classical (including cyclohexylphenols and other compounds).
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In recent years, there’s been an increase in the number of media reports on users of synthetic cannabinoids. Commonly referred to by names such as ‘Spice’ or ‘K2’, the most recent reported case involved five UK students being hospitalised after use. But what are the chemicals present in ‘spice’ and similar drugs, and what are the chemical compounds in cannabis that they aim to mimic? That’s what this graphic and post attempt to answer.

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