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Review summarizes research on health effects of K2/Spice

Science Spotlight

September 17, 2014

K2/Spice imageK2, a popular brand of “Spice” mixture
Image courtesy Coolidge Youth Coalition

A new article, authored by scientists from NIDA and the University of Maryland, provides an overview of preclinical and clinical research on synthetic cannabinoids, often sold under brand names such as K2 or Spice. Areas covered by this review include who is using and why; research on brain receptor binding and intensity of drug effects; symptoms reported during emergency room visits; psychiatric effects; withdrawal; effects on driving; and deaths associated with synthetic cannabinoid use.

K2/Spice is sometimes referred to as “synthetic marijuana,” because its cannabinoid compounds act on the same cell receptors as THC, the primary psychoactive component of marijuana. However, its side effects can be quite different and unpredictable. The State of New Hampshire and the City of New York recently issued alerts on recent increases in overdoses and/or emergency department visits related to synthetic cannabinoid use, further highlighting the dangerous public health consequences of these substances.

For a copy of the journal review article (published online August 18), go to: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871614010333. For general information on K2/Spice, go to: www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/k2spice-synthetic-marijuana.

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245.

NIDA Press Office

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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    NIDA. (2014, September 17). Review summarizes research on health effects of K2/Spice. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2014/09/review-summarizes-research-health-effects-k2spice

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