Background New psychoactive substances constitute a growing and dynamic class of abused drugs in the United States. On July 12, 2016, a synthetic cannabinoid caused mass intoxication of 33 persons in one New York City neighborhood, in an event described in the popular press as a “zombie” outbreak because of the appearance of the intoxicated persons. Methods We obtained and tested serum, whole blood, and urine samples from 8 patients among the 18 who were transported to local hospitals; we also tested a sample of the herbal “incense” product “AK-47 24 Karat Gold,” which was implicated in the outbreak. Samples were analyzed by means of liquid chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Results The synthetic cannabinoid methyl 2-(1-(4-fluorobenzyl)-1H-indazole-3-carboxamido)-3-methylbutanoate (AMB-FUBINACA, also known as MMB-FUBINACA or FUB-AMB) was identified in AK-47 24 Karat Gold at a mean (±SD) concentration of 16.0±3.9 mg per gram. The de-esterified acid metabolite was found in the serum or whole blood of all eight patients, with concentrations ranging from 77 to 636 ng per milliliter. Conclusions The potency of the synthetic cannabinoid identified in these analyses is consistent with strong depressant effects that account for the “zombielike” behavior reported in this mass intoxication. AMB-FUBINACA is an example of the emerging class of “ultrapotent” synthetic cannabinoids and poses a public health concern. Collaboration among clinical laboratory staff, health professionals, and law enforcement agencies facilitated the timely identification of the compound and allowed health authorities to take appropriate action.
Hair analysis for cannabinoids is extensively applied in workplace drug testing and in child protection cases, although valid data on incorporation of the main analytical targets, ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC (THC-COOH), into human hair is widely missing. Furthermore, ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A (THCA-A), the biogenetic precursor of THC, is found in the hair of persons who solely handled cannabis material. In the light of the serious consequences of positive test results the mechanisms of drug incorporation into hair urgently need scientific evaluation. Here we show that neither THC nor THCA-A are incorporated into human hair in relevant amounts after systemic uptake. THC-COOH, which is considered an incontestable proof of THC uptake according to the current scientific doctrine, was found in hair, but was also present in older hair segments, which already grew before the oral THC intake and in sebum/sweat samples. Our studies show that all three cannabinoids can be present in hair of non-consuming individuals because of transfer through cannabis consumers, via their hands, their sebum/sweat, or cannabis smoke. This is of concern for e.g. child-custody cases as cannabinoid findings in a child’s hair may be caused by close contact to cannabis consumers rather than by inhalation of side-stream smoke.
Anecdotally, both acute and chronic cannabis use have been associated with apathy, amotivation, and other reward processing deficits. To date, empirical support for these effects is limited, and no previous studies have assessed both acute effects of Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), as well as associations with cannabis dependence.
Recent reports suggest that acute intoxications by synthetic cannabinoids are increasing in the United States (1,2). Synthetic cannabinoids, which were research compounds in the 1980s, are now produced overseas; the first shipment recognized to contain synthetic cannabinoids was seized at a U.S. border in 2008 (3). Fifteen synthetic cannabinoids are Schedule I controlled substances (3), but enforcement is hampered by the continual introduction of new chemical compounds (1,3). Studies of synthetic cannabinoids indicate higher cannabinoid receptor binding affinities, effects two to 100 times more potent than Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis), noncannabinoid receptor binding, and genotoxicity (4,5). Acute synthetic cannabinoid exposure reportedly causes a range of mild to severe neuropsychiatric, cardiovascular, renal, and other effects (4,6,7); chronic use might lead to psychosis (6,8). During 2010-2015, physicians in the Toxicology Investigators Consortium (ToxIC) treated 456 patients for synthetic cannabinoid intoxications; 277 of the 456 patients reported synthetic cannabinoids as the sole toxicologic agent. Among these 277 patients, the most common clinical signs of intoxication were neurologic (agitation, central nervous system depression/coma, and delirium/toxic psychosis). Relative to all cases logged by 50 different sites in the ToxIC Case Registry, there was a statistically significant association between reporting year and the annual proportion of synthetic cannabinoid cases. In 2015, reported cases of synthetic cannabinoid intoxication increased at several ToxIC sites, corroborating reported upward trends in the numbers of such cases (1,2) and underscoring the need for prevention.
The therapeutic application of Cannabis is attracting substantial public and clinical interest. The Cannabis plant has been described as a veritable ‘treasure trove’, producing more than a hundred different cannabinoids, although the focus to date has been on the psychoactive molecule delta-9-tetraydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Other numerous secondary metabolites of Cannabis the terpenes, some of which share the common intermediary geranyl diphosphate (GPP) with the cannabinoids, are hypothesised to contribute synergistically to their therapeutic benefits, an attribute that has been described as the ‘entourage effect’. The effective delivery of such a complex multicomponent pharmaceutical relies upon the stable genetic background and standardised growth of the plant material, particularly if the raw botanical product in the form of the dried pistillate inflorescence (flos) is the source. Following supercritical CO2 extraction of the inflorescence (and possibly bracts), the secondary metabolites can be blended to provide a specific ratio of major cannabinoids (THC:CBD) or individual cannabinoids can be isolated, purified and supplied as the pharmaceutical. Intensive breeding strategies will provide novel cultivars of Cannabis possessing elevated levels of specific cannabinoids or other secondary metabolites.
Cannabis sativa has been cultivated throughout human history as a source of fiber, oil and food, and for its medicinal and intoxicating properties. Selective breeding has produced cannabis plants for specific uses, including high-potency marijuana strains and hemp cultivars for fiber and seed production. The molecular biology underlying cannabinoid biosynthesis and other traits of interest is largely unexplored.
Cannabis sativa L. is an important herbaceous species originating from Central Asia, which has been used in folk medicine and as a source of textile fiber since the dawn of times. This fast-growing plant has recently seen a resurgence of interest because of its multi-purpose applications: it is indeed a treasure trove of phytochemicals and a rich source of both cellulosic and woody fibers. Equally highly interested in this plant are the pharmaceutical and construction sectors, since its metabolites show potent bioactivities on human health and its outer and inner stem tissues can be used to make bioplastics and concrete-like material, respectively. In this review, the rich spectrum of hemp phytochemicals is discussed by putting a special emphasis on molecules of industrial interest, including cannabinoids, terpenes and phenolic compounds, and their biosynthetic routes. Cannabinoids represent the most studied group of compounds, mainly due to their wide range of pharmaceutical effects in humans, including psychotropic activities. The therapeutic and commercial interests of some terpenes and phenolic compounds, and in particular stilbenoids and lignans, are also highlighted in view of the most recent literature data. Biotechnological avenues to enhance the production and bioactivity of hemp secondary metabolites are proposed by discussing the power of plant genetic engineering and tissue culture. In particular two systems are reviewed, i.e., cell suspension and hairy root cultures. Additionally, an entire section is devoted to hemp trichomes, in the light of their importance as phytochemical factories. Ultimately, prospects on the benefits linked to the use of the -omics technologies, such as metabolomics and transcriptomics to speed up the identification and the large-scale production of lead agents from bioengineered Cannabis cell culture, are presented.
The pharmacological importance of cannabinoids has been in study for several years. Cannabinoids comprise of (a) the active compounds of the Cannabis sativa plant, (b) endogenous as well as © synthetic cannabinoids. Though cannabinoids are clinically used for anti-palliative effects, recent studies open a promising possibility as anti-cancer agents. They have been shown to possess anti-proliferative and anti-angiogenic effects in vitro as well as in vivo in different cancer models. Cannabinoids regulate key cell signaling pathways that are involved in cell survival, invasion, angiogenesis, metastasis, etc. There is more focus on CB1 and CB2, the two cannabinoid receptors which are activated by most of the cannabinoids. In this review article, we will focus on a broad range of cannabinoids, their receptor dependent and receptor independent functional roles against various cancer types with respect to growth, metastasis, energy metabolism, immune environment, stemness and future perspectives in exploring new possible therapeutic opportunities.
Natural cannabinoids and their synthetic substitutes are the most widely used recreational drugs. Numerous clinical cases describe acute toxic symptoms and neurological consequences following inhalation of the mixture of synthetic cannabinoids known as “Spice.” Here we report that an intraperitoneal administration of the natural cannabinoid Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (10 mg/kg), one of the main constituent of marijuana, or the synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018 (2.5 mg/kg) triggered electrographic seizures in mice, recorded by electroencephalography and videography. Administration of JWH-018 (1.5, 2.5 and 5 mg/kg) increased seizure spikes dose-dependently. Pretreatment of mice with AM-251 (5 mg/kg), a cannabinoid receptor 1-selective antagonist, completely prevented cannabinoid-induced seizures. These data imply that abuse of cannabinoids can be dangerous and represents an emerging public health threat. Additionally, our data strongly suggest that AM-251 could be used as a crucial prophylactic therapy for cannabinoid-induced seizures or similar life-threatening conditions.
Increased medical and legal cannabis intake is accompanied by greater use of cannabis vaporization and more cases of driving under the influence of cannabis. Although simultaneous Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and alcohol use is frequent, potential pharmacokinetic interactions are poorly understood. Here we studied blood and plasma vaporized cannabinoid disposition, with and without simultaneous oral low-dose alcohol.