All You Need to Know About JWH018-K2: A Synthetic Marijuana
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All You Need to Know About JWH018-K2: A Synthetic Marijuana

What is Synthetic Marijuana?

JJWH018 is one of the complex kinds of synthetic cannabis or synthetic marijuana that is known by various brand names such as K2 and Spice and which are sold as "herbal incense" or "herbal smoking blends."

Also referred to as "fake weed,” JWH018-K2 is one of the 100 indoles, pyrroles, and indenes first synthesized by Professor John W. Huffman in Clemson University and was originally developed as an analgesic.

Because JWH018 is a full agonist of both CB1 and CB, its effects on the body and mind of the person ingesting it tends to be more intense than THC, which is just a partial agonist of cannabis.

Although synthetic cannabis has been used for therapeutic purposes, JWH018 alters an addicted person's mindset and may cause extreme anxiety, seizures, and convulsions. This is because of GABA neurotransmissions, which are more effective than THC.

Can It Be Detected in A Drug Test?

JWH018 cannot be detected through typical immunoassay screening methods used in screening urine samples for cannabis, but can be detected through two processes known as Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS or HPLC-MS). GC-MS uses the combination of gas-liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify specific drug metabolites in a specimen while LC-MS is a prevailing technique used to identify positive drug metabolites in highly sensitive and selective applications by using a combination of liquid chromatography's physical separation capability to the mass spectrometry's analysis of the specimen's mass.

Health Studies About JWH018

Synthetic cannabinoids do not have original marijuana content, however, when smoked they tend to cause more potent effects than actual marijuana. With approximately 4 times the potency of actual marijuana, JWH018-K2 has caused several addictions in the United States.

A survey conducted by the Idaho Hospital Association (IHA) showed out of the 20 hospitals serving the state, 11 have experience dealing with the drugs Spice and K2 and there were more than 80 cases of Spice addiction reported to have occurred during the months of February to August 2010.

The federal government warns that the "high" experienced from smoking JWH018-K2 causes severe hazards to the cognitive and psychological aspects of an addicted person.

How Does It Work?

JWH018-K2, along with JWH-073 and JWH-250, which are common in many cannabis smokes, works by depressing the central nervous system through binding on CB1 receptors with 3-fold preference, hence; smoking at least 3 to 5 mg of JWH018-K2 everyday would alter human emotions, impair the ability to decide, and cause memory loss. In addition, various medical studies have shown that further abuse of JWH018-K2 may lead to extreme sedation which may end up to comma, euphoria, paranoia, and anxiety.

It creates a constricting effect to the cardiovascular system, which includes faster heart rate, which becomes life threatening as it leads to various dangers such as heart attack and stroke. JWH018-K2 results in scarier withdrawal symptoms than regular marijuana, which include: tremors, nausea, diarrhea, and severe palpitations.

What Are The Physical Signs of Abuse

A person who smokes JWH018-K2 can be spotted by several physical change and effects the drug causes:

  • Paranoia particularly fear on dying
  • Anxiety attack
  • Severe memory loss and dementia
  • Severe disorientation
  • Tachycardia
  • Weight Loss
  • Frequent Sickness
  • Bloodshot eyes and droopy eyelids

A JWH-018 or K2 addicted person may be noticeable through the following symptoms:

  • Often times avoiding eye contacts with families, friends, and relatives and even other people.
  • Clenching teeth as a sign of craving for the drug
  • Frequent intake of water due to excessive thirst
  • Becoming more deceitful or secretive in terms of money and whereabouts
  • Disappearance for longer periods of time
  • Decreased motivation or lost of goal
  • Hyperactivity such as becoming more talkative and sporty for specific time span
  • Lethargic
  • Can be found staring at mid air and laughing at nothing

How Governments React to JWH018-K2

TThe reported Spice death in Indianapolis in 2010 moved various states including: Kansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah to outlaw JWH018-K2. The legislation took effect in 2011.

In March of 2011, five more types of cannabinoids were ruled to be illegal in the United States. Aside from JWH018-K2, some others include JWH-073, CP-47, 497, JWH-200, and cannabicyclohexanol.

The following table shows the legal status of JWH018-K2 and similar other drugs in selected countries.

Name of Country Date of Banning Details
Austria December 18, 2008 Austria banned the sale and distribution of "Spice" upon finding out a JWH018 mixture on it, however; some other herbal incense mixtures like "Spice Silver", "Spice Gold", "Spice Diamond", "Spice Arctic Synergy", "Spice Tropical Synergy", "Spice Egypt", "Spice Yucatan Fire" have remained available.
Canada June 3, 2010 JWH-018 and similar others are already covered in their Schedule 1 and 2 legislation.
France February 24, 2009 JWH018 -K2 is illegal.
Germany January 22, 2009 JWH018-K2 is considered to be completely illegal.
Ireland May 11, 2010 JWH018-K2 is immediately banned by the Minister for Health Mary Harney.
Polland August 6, 2010 JWH018-K2 as well as JWH007 is considered to be completely illegal.
Russia January 22, 2010 JWH018-K2 along with Am-HI-CO, Dream, Zoom, Ecstasy, Pep Spice, and Yucatan has been directly declared as controlled substances or illegal.
Sweden October 1, 2010 JWH-018 along with JWH-07 was banned after being identified as an ingredient in herbal synthetic cannabis.
United Kingdom December 23, 2009 JWH-018 is covered under controlled substances after it was subject to parliamentary approval last 2010.
United States March 1, 2011 JWH-018 is placed under Schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Other Forms of JWH

JWH018-K2 got its name from its proponent John W. Huffman. It is usually brown color, usually lumpy, dry or sticky in nature. JWH018-K2 has many forms that also contain analgesic properties. The following are some examples and short descriptions of the other forms of JWH.

Name Details
JWH-007 A chemical derivative from naphthoylindole family, which has lower binding capability than JWH-018 of only 9.50nM at CB1 and 2.94nM at CB21.
JWH-015 Considered to be a subtype-selective cannabinoid agonist which has a stronger binding capability in CB2 than in CB1. Proven to be functional in treating immunomodulatory effects.
JWH-018 A full agonist to both CB1 and CB2 but with a little selectivity for CB2.
JWH-030 A partial agonist at CB1 which entails only 50% potency compared to THC.
JWH-051 Its structure is similar to the potent cannabinoid agonist HU-210 but has more affinity for CB1 than CB2.
JWH-073 A partial agonist at both the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors but with a little selectivity on CB1.
JWH-081 Affinity is approximately 10 xs at CB2 and is fairly selective at CB1.
JWH-133 A potently selective at approximately 200 x in CB2 which is known to prevent inflammation related to Alzheimer's disease such as Amyloid Beta.
JWH-147 A cannabinoid agonist for both CB1 and CB2 with only a little selectivity on CB2.
JWH-200 An analgesic chemical from aminoalkylindole family with potency almost the same as THC with a binding receptor 42nM on CB1.
JWH-203 A less potent agonist with only 51.0nM affinity on CB1.
JWH-210 An analgesic chemical from naphthoylindole family
JWH-250 Considered as one of the most potent 4-substituted Naphthoyl derivatives in the naphthoylindole series with higher binding affinity at CB1. That is primarily harmful to health.
JWH-307 A type of analgesic drug and agonist to both CB1 and CB2 with 7.7nM at CB1 and 3.3nM at CB2.
JWH-359 Considered to be a type of dibenzopyran "classical" cannabinoid drug which is more selective at CB2.
JWH-398 A type of analgesic chemical from naphthoylindole family which has only mild selectivity to both CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Drug Testing / Screening for Synthetic Marijuana

Synthetic Marijuana Test

Even though it is banned in various places, JWH018-K2 is still accessible through the internet, head shops, and gas stations.

Drug testing kits have been developed and have proven helpful for a variety of drug treatment and criminal justice situations. A urine drug test is one effective means of testing for the presence of JWH018-K2 and JWH-073 metabolites in urine for 3 to 4 days.

Synthetic marijuana drug testing are also available that will test for 10 different drugs at one time including synthetic marijuana.

The presence of JWH018-K2 can be detected through gas and liquid chromatography combined with tandem mass spectrometry which follows the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) cut-off level for cannabis of 50 ng/ ML.


Related Links:

Truth and Myths of Marijuana: History, Signs & Symptoms, Drug Testing, Medicinal Information and More about Marijuana


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