Synthetic Cannabinoids (Spice)

Other names: Spice, Black Mamba, Annilation, Amsterdam Gold

Synthetic cannabinoids are a type of NPS. We’ve included them here with their own page as they are better known than most other NPS but that does not mean they are safer. They are a man-made chemical compound that are intended to mimic tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – although often give very different effects.

Synthetic cannabinoids are usually dissolved in a solvent and then sprayed onto dried herbal matter to make a smoking mixture.

The effects of smoking synthetic cannabinoids can vary considerably. They can be dependent on the person, their state of mind, other substances involved, as well as the potency of the brand. The desired effects of synthetic cannabinoids are similar to those of cannabis. This includes happiness, relaxation and altered sensations. Unwanted effects may include paranoia, panic attacks, hallucinations, aggression/loss of control, nausea, memory loss, disorientation, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and seizures.

Synthetic cannabinoids are used in a similar way to cannabis. They are smoked, often mixed with tobacco in joints/spliffs, bongs and pipes.

  • Researchers have concluded that synthetic cannabinoids are potentially more harmful than cannabis and it is therefore possible to ‘overdose’. A number of deaths and emergency hospitalisations in the UK have been linked to the use of synthetic cannabinoids.
  • Taking synthetic cannabinoids may trigger or worsen mental health problems.
  • Adverse effects may include panic attacks and hallucinations.
  • If you choose to use synthetic cannabinoids, then use in a safe environment and in the company of someone you trust. Ideally, this person will not have taken the substance themselves and will be in a position to get help if things go wrong.
  • Take small amounts first to test the strength and effects; start low and go slow.
  • The use of synthetic cannabinoids with alcohol or other substances should be avoided.
  • Avoid using synthetic cannabinoids if you are aware of any existing mental health problems.
  • Be aware that the same brand (e.g. Black Mamba) may contain different substances. Therefore, treat each substance as new.

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