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Storied Clemson professor is grandfather of synthetic marijuana

  1. Rob Cypher
    View attachment 42874 Tucked in the mountains of western North Carolina, you will find a house blanketed by fog and an 82-year-old man shrouded in mystery. For 50 years, Dr. John Huffman made his living in a lab on the campus of Clemson. "I was a professor of chemistry and I ran a research group," said Huffman, who researched how certain chemicals turn on Cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Those receptors control appetite, pain, mood and memory. They can also make you high.

    Today, one of Huffman's 450 compounds is synonymous with synthetic marijuana. It is a key ingredient in products sold as potpourri and bath salts. JWH-018 stands for John William Huffman. Huffman laughed when asked how it feels to be viewed as the "grandfather" of synthetic marijuana. "These things were certainly not designed to be synthetic marijuana."

    Eight years ago, decades after Dr. Huffman invented JWH-018, someone started selling the compound as a fertilizer for Bonsai trees. When somebody smoked the leaves, a dangerous synthetic high was born. Huffman said he is not terribly surprised that people are smoking his compound. "People being people, they're gonna do dumb things," said Huffman.

    Today, JWH-018 lives in infamy with its own Wikipedia page. The psychedelic highs and terrifying lows are posted online for the world to see. In some cases, synthetic marijuana has led to death. Huffman said he never intended to create a monster. "I think that everybody has to be responsible for their own actions."

    North Carolina and other states across the country have banned JWH-018. But, illicit drug makers, many from China, are playing a cat and mouse game of altering the synthetic recipes to circumvent the law. Dr. Huffman scoffs at those who compare him to chemist Walter White in the popular TV series, "Breaking Bad." "I saw a part of one episode and I gave up in disgust," said Huffman.

    Today, Dr. Huffman spends his days enjoying a different kind of high, far away from the lab. At 2,600 feet, Huffman's mountainside home is his retirement refuge. This storied Clemson professor now plays with model trains, well aware that his seemingly benign compound is not child's play. "Very dangerous," said Huffman. "It's like playing Russian Roulette."

    Dave Wagner
    WCNC-TV (NBC Charlotte, North Carolina)
    Feburary 14, 2015



  1. tayorous
    Thanks for this lots more information on synthetic weed I didn't know I am and have been very interested in doing synthetic weed for quite a while now
  2. Joe-(5-HTP)
    It must be tough for a scientist just interested in knowledge to have his discoveries trickle down in such an unexpected and ultimately destructive fashion.

    I suspect there's a bit of self-preservation going on in his claim to believe that "everyone is responsible for their own actions".

    I don't blame him though, he shouldn't feel guilty at all. It's the failed drug law system which is responsible for the bizzare connection between his work and the resulting drug use.

    However, I doubt he can completely rid his mind of guilt, as evidence by his need to proclaim his defense, which is a shame. Oh well, there's many kinds of victims of the drug war I suppose, in some ways his conscience is another victim.
  3. Alfa
    But JWH compounds were the second wave of Spice. The first wave was CP-47,497.
    So who is the real grandfather (or grandmother) of spice?
    Its interesting that the media is talking to Huffman so often, while completely ignoring the inventor of CP-47,497
  4. Rob Cypher
    CP-47,497 was developed by Pfizer, from what I've read online.
  5. Alfa
    The oldest publication about CP-47,497 is from 1982:
    Cannabimimetic activity from CP-47,497, a derivative of 3-phenylcyclohexanol.
    Weissman A, Milne GM, Melvin LS Jr.

    It seems that these scientists may be the real grandparents of spice.
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