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Probe launched into synthetic ‘herbal high’

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  1. chillinwill
    The sale of a product containing synthetic copies of the active ingredients in cannabis has come under investigation by British and international regulators.

    The product, marketed as “Spice”, is one of a growing number of “herbal highs” sold in shops and via the internet. But it is the first that specialists have identified as containing chemical compounds designed to simulate the effects of cannabis.

    The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in the UK is considering legal action against the company Psyche Deli in north London, which produces Spice but has no licence to do so under the Medicines Act.

    Sales of Spice have grown sharply in recent months, triggering scrutiny in a number of countries. Late last month Germany and Austria formally outlawed Spice, while US customs officials have seized imports. The European Early Warning System of regulators and police, which tracks the emergence of new drugs and assesses their risks, is also gathering information that may trigger calls for an European Union-wide ban.

    “Herbal highs” are purchased in the belief that they act as hallucinogens, stimulants or relaxants, but most have been judged innocuous or have yet to be assessed. The potential qualities of Spice were judged sufficiently hazardous for the MHRA to write to Psyche Deli last autumn cautioning that the company must seek approval under the Medicines Act, which would require clinical testing to show its safety.

    Laboratory analysis in Germany has since shown the product also contains at least two additional compounds synthesised by chemists to simulate THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The two compounds – known as JWH 018 and CP 47497 – are much more potent than naturally occurring THC. Experts say they are relatively simple and cheap to produce, and are sold as “plant hormones” by producers in China. Analysts have found that their concentration in individual packets of Spice vary widely.

    No verified testing of the compounds has taken place to demonstrate their risks, although they may at a minimum have the same potential identified risks of increased psychosis and schizophrenia associated with cannabis, as well as of cancer as a result of smoking. But their use is not illegal in the UK.

    Boxes of Spice are imported ready-made from Qingdao in China to the office of Psyche Deli and labelled as “Sumos”, promising “flower power”.

    The directors of Psyche Deli did not reply to requests for interview, but the company’s auditor confirmed the company had been sold recently to a “head shop” in the Netherlands.

    By Andrew Jack
    Published: February 14 2009 02:07
    Financial Times
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/75e20f8a-fa2a-11dd-9daa-000077b07658.html?nclick_check=1

Comments

  1. BuffaloBoobs
    What swim took from that article was, "It seems to be fun, so we're looking into a way to ban this."

    Swim got his paws on a 3g back many months ago. He liked it, but not as much for the price he got it at. He says it felt like paying for a 'service' when he is already a pimp; kind of pointless, but still a change of pace.

    Interestingly, the prices seem to have doubled since his last dabbling with Spice Gold. A shame that so many people need to pay so much for (mostly) no reason.

    Back more on topic: who didn't see this coming from the first time they heard of this product? Bannination is always on the table when it comes to mind-altering substances, even if said product is a combination of legal substances. Oh well.
  2. ovalshapedhedgehog
    It just sucks that it's perfectly legal for vendors, and had been for years, to con people in Camden etc by selling 'smoking mixes' which are so pisspoor that even my gran would be complaining that she'd been ripped off, and yet the minute someone invents one that actually achieves its aim, they look into banning it.

    It's pathetic.

    The good news is that it might take some while for 'spice' to be banned as such. First of all, they have to identify what the active ingredient is. Sure, they know it's JW18, but they then have to work out what particular out of the many herbs which comprise spice, actually is JW18, and then they have to isolate that. Companies can simply keep changing which herb and which compound.
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