HR 1254 (pdf) has passed the House.

This Act would criminalize possession of a range of compounds which activate the endogenous cannabinoid CB1 receptor. The language covers several structural classes as well as an extended list of, e.g. the JWH-xxx compounds. In essence this is another attempt on the analog front in which the DEA is not able to move quickly enough on specific new drugs that emerge within a general neuropharmacological class.

The bill also doubles the amount of time the DEA has to generate the support for a final rule, once an emergency action has been invoked.

The House Resolution next addresses 17 compounds in the likely stimulant/empathogen class, with most of them being cathinone derivatives. Readers of this blog will be familiar with the well known 4-methylmethcathinone (mephedrone) and 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) on this list.

One assumes that Chuck Schumer will be leading the charge on this in the Senate and that it will pass in short order…opposition to this sort of legislation is not usually robust among elected politicians.

From the Sacramento Bee:

At the “Kush Expo Medical Marijuana Show” in Anaheim this month, the 420 Nurses were joined by the Ganja Juice girls and a bikini troupe for an Orange County dispensary sponsoring the Expo’s “Hot Kush Girl” contest. A whooping, largely male throng cheered as 21 women competed for signature edition bongs and cash prizes.

“The marijuana industry is male-dominated, and dudes love to look at hot chicks,” said Ngaio Bealum, Sacramento publisher of a marijuana lifestyle magazine called West Coast Cannabis.

And this, my friends, is yet more evidence that medical marijuana and compassionate care nonsense is 10% about legitimate treatment for health problems and 90% about schmokin’ some weed.

In more ridiculousness, you too can try to be a “420 Nurse“. Aka, Pot Pinup.
h/t: @Dirk57

Following up* on the case of Eric Srack who was prosecuted for selling a synthetic cannabis product containing the cannabimimetic compound JWH-081. The Salina Journal reports:

Jurors found Eric W. Srack guilty Tuesday morning of three felony counts of sale, delivery or distribution of JWH-081, an analog of an illegal substance.

As you will recall, this particular compound was not one of the ones listed (JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, and cannabicyclohexanol) ) on the recent scheduling action by the DEA.

You will also recall that this whole blossoming retail market in cannabimimetic products showed quite clearly that the Federal Analog Law, despite having an “OR” between its two key provisions (acts like, looks like) was in fact being interpreted as having an “AND” between these two provisions in case law. The above mentioned compounds were clearly endocannabinoid CB1 receptor agonists, therefore they “act like” the Schedule I drug Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol. They did not however look structurally like THC. So it appeared to be the case in summer-fall 2010 that DEA’s “watching and evaluating” language was the same as saying “Yup, these are not currently illegal folks, go nuts!”.

Putting at least one of the JWH-xxx compounds on the Schedule, however, had the potential to support the “AND” interpretation of the Federal Analog Act language. All that matters going forward from here is the case law.

This is the first successful conviction that I’ve heard of. If it holds up, it is a highly significant turning point for the legal status of these cannabimimetic, synthetic marijuana products.

*hmm, actually that may be one of the posts I’ve failed to recover from Sb.

The recent meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence featured a very well attended session on the emerging recreational drugs that are best described generically as synthetic cannabis. Popularly these are frequently referred to as K2 or Spice as these seem to be the best known of the initial market branding. One of the first identified and most frequently observed active compounds in these products was JWH-018, so you may see this term as well.
The past year or two has seen an explosion in the use and supply of synthetic cannabinoid “incense” products in the US and worldwide. The basic nature of the product is well established- Small packets (typically 3g in the US) of dried plant material marketed as “incense” and marked “not for human consumption” that are priced well above what you might expect. In the range of $60 at my local fine inhalation glassware establishments, last I checked. Upon analysis, these products are typically found to have a variety of plant materials, but also to be adulturated with a host of drug compounds that have agonist effects at the CB1 receptor.
As you are aware the most-active psychotropic compound to be found in cannabis, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) confers the majority of its effects through partial agonist activity at CB1 receptors.
In short, these “incense” products are a constructed, synthetic mimic of cannabis. Since the active ingredients are, in many cases, full agonists this means that the maximum CB1 activation can potentially be higher than you could achieve with any dose of the partial agonist THC.

Read the rest of this entry »

Did I mention I enjoy learning more about the neurobiological and behavioral effects of recreational drugs as well as the development and treatment of addictions?

The College on Problems of Drug Dependence will be holding their annual meeting in Hollywood Florida this upcoming week. I’ve been going through the Itinerary Planner and Program Book to get a preview. There are a few presentations that touch on topics that we’ve blogged about here at the DrugMonkey blog, including

-treating the hyponatremia associated with MDMA-induced medical emergency

vaccination against drug abuse

exercise as a potential therapy for, or antidote against, stimulant drug addiction

-JWH-018 and other synthetic cannabinoid constituents of Spice/K2 and similar “incense” products

-some preclinical studies on mephedrone / 4-methylmethcathinone

-presentations from the DEA on scheduling actions that are in progress

I’m certainly looking forward to seeing a lot of interesting new data over the next week.

Happy 420 Dudes!

April 20, 2011

A little reading for marijuana fans from the blog’s Cannabis Archive
Yes, it does cause dependence, including symptoms of Withdrawal
A take on the conditional probability of cannabis dependence…wait, as many US folks are dependent on cannabis as have ever so much as tried…?
Oh, and that K2/Spice, synthetic marijuana stuff containing JWH-018 and other cannabimimetic full agonist drugs? Yeah that causes dependence too.

A peculiar phenomenon in some chronic marijuana users: Hyperemesis
The Pot Potency data
Parents want to know, “Did the pot make my kid lazy?

A comment over at Brayton’s blog drew my attention. A D. Johnson notes:

A few days ago, police arrested Eric Srack, a business owner in Salina. Srack had been selling an herbal potpourri which people were using as a legal alternative to marijuana.

The comment is apparently referring to so-called “incense” products being sold in head shops, cigar stores (like mine) and convenience stores that contain cannabimimetic compounds. The JWH series (JWH-018, JWH-250, JWH-073 seem to be common), CP47,497 and a few other compounds are ligands for the endogenous cannabinoid receptor subtype 1 (CB1) just like good old Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Natural products pharmacologist David Kroll has an excellent intro to these compounds at Terra Sigillata and dr_leigh has a two-parter on the pharmacology here and here. The summary version is that these compounds have the same basic pharmacological effect as that of THC which confers much of the psychoactive properties of cannabis, i.e., stimulation of the CB1 receptor. In many cases these canabimimetic compounds are more potent than THC in their actions and they are what are referred to as full agonists, in contrast to the partial agonist actions of THC. Unsurprisingly, these “incense” products are capable of inducing dependence which looks reasonably similar to dependence produced by cannabis.
Back to our story…..

The stuff wasn’t illegal until around a month ago, when the police decided that it was chemically similar enough to something that was illegal to warrant an arrest.
In other words, the state government fiddled with the law until it enabled the police to arrest someone for doing something that wasn’t illegal when he started. Are these drug enforcement guys just bored?

As I responded at Brayton’s blog, this is inaccurate.

Read the rest of this entry »

we’re talking about cannabimimetic “incense” or “potpourri” products and the Analog provision of the Controlled Substances Act over at Scienceblogs.

The Monitoring the Future epidemiological survey of drug use in the US has announced some of their updated data today. As always, you can go to their website and look at the figures yourself. The monographs with expanded data tables and summaries can be found here, the current year’s data will be published in June, I think, so until then you’ll have to be satisfied with the selected figures on the website.

Read the rest of this entry »

This is Drug Facts Week, an effort of NIDA to promote understanding of the effects of recreational drugs. I have a little bit of interest in such things. Unfortunately, I’ve been a bit busy and will continue to be so this week. So I thought I would get at least partially in the game with a series of re-posts. This post originally went up at on April 29, 2008.

For some reason many people are in denial about cannabis dependence and wish to assert that there is no such thing, or if there is, it is somehow of lesser importance than is dependence on other substances of abuse. There are many ways to assess importance of course. What gets me going, however, are the assertions about cannabis abuse and dependence that are informed by anecdote and personal experience with a handful of users instead of an understanding of the available evidence.
To provide a little context for todays’ post, I took MarkH of denialism blog to task for his expression of what I viewed as standard cannabis science denialism a fair while ago. In a comment following his post, MarkH specifically identified nicotine withdrawal as being worse than cannabis withdrawal. This is the perfect setup since there are two recent papers which set out explicitly to test this hypothesis. Let us see what they found, shall we?

Read the rest of this entry »

BikeMonkey Guest Post
The KPBS public broadcast station has been working on an exploration of Proposition 19, the ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. This will be on the tee vee October 19. Nice to finally see some journalistic effort. The Prop 19 initiative has been unbelievably absent from the public airwaves, given the topic.

There was a teaser interview on the radio and I picked up a couple of interesting points.

The number of people in the CA state prison system for marijuana charges that would be impacted by Prop 19 amount to 0.8% of the total population. This is true for three large County jail systems as well.

The numbers of these individuals in prison have been dropping over the past decade.

Be wary of claims of arrest costs- advocates like to amortize total police department costs across all “arrests”. Law officer points out that most marijuana arrests that would be affected by Prop 19 are not even booked- they are arrested, cited and released instead of being taken down to the police office. This is a substantial difference in per-arrest cost.

The RAND Corporation study was mentioned- if you haven’t seen it, their report [pdf] shows that claims of the proponents that this will significantly affect the big political bugaboo of “Mexican drug cartels” is overblown. Way overblown.

Of 140 surveyed elected local officials (mayors, city council members, etc), 41 would go on record as opposed to Prop 19. Nobody else would provide a pro or con response.

The Obama Administration is firmly opposed to Prop 19.

Attorney General Eric Holder…says the Justice Department strongly opposes California’s Proposition 19 and remains firmly committed to enforcing the federal Controlled Substances Act in all states.

He made the comments in a letter to former chiefs of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter, dated Wednesday.

“We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law,” Holder wrote.

You may have heard a bit on your local news or perhaps read a piece in your local paper about quasi-legal synthetic marijuana products being sold in your local head shop as “incense”. They come under a variety of brand names of which Spice and K2 may be most familiar. Very likely, the media bit you have seen was from some local politician or other trying to make some political hay over his or her concerns that this incense is ruining the lives of the constituency. All that hysteria for incense? Something else must be afoot, you are thinking…and you are quite correct.

Abel Pharmboy had a very good description of the reason people are willing to pay $60 (USD) for about 3 grams of plant material. Read the rest of this entry »

Our good blogfriend JuniorProf has launched a campaign to explain why pain research matters. I am already learning lots of stuff from his older posts. Also from observations such as this one at Almost Diamonds and this one from Zuska.
The thing that caught my eye recently, though, was this post:
Drug discovery in academia and NIH, a new type of U01

This brings us to the bane of drug discovery: absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME). This is something that industry does very well.

ADME in academia, well, let’s just say, not so much. The reasons for this are likely pretty simple: its an important area of drug development but not the most exciting, by any stretch of the imagination (sorry you ADME specialists), and it often requires all sorts of rather expensive testing in model organisms that aren’t used often in academic labs. Its also highly compound-specific and this makes grant writing very hard (or so I hear).

JuniorProf then goes on to make an argument for why drug development should be done in academia and how that might work best. He then describes a recent NIH initiative that is trying to support some academic drug development effort.
Go read. Follow @juniorprofblog on Twitter or perhaps just the #painresearchmatters hashtag.

The world wide web can be a random thing at times and so it is hard to make much out of a tiny pinhole of a window. Still, something really unique in my experience is the unbelievably sustained drumbeat of Google search hits which land on my post of Feb 17, 2010 entitled:

Most of the time one of my blog posts enjoys traffic for a day or two and thereafter rapidly subsides into obscurity. I’ve never had, until now, a post that just keeps ticking away with a steady stream of daily hits from the Google like this one.
I’ve just looked at the past thousand or so hits that arrived at the blog via search word. Half of them are for this post on synthetic marijuana. This is atypical, as usually we see a much broader range of search terms landing on a variety of prior posts.
Where the search terms are elaborated, the major interests seem to be in side effects (generically), whether it is bad for you, how to make synthetic marijuana and whether a person can be tested for prior use of these items.
Anyway, like I said this is barely even a pinhole view. It would be an error to overinterpret. But it sure does represent a divergence from our usual experiences here at the blog.
Update: Abel Pharmboy reports he’s seeing the same thing on his post: What’s the buzz?: Synthetic marijuana, K2, Spice, JWH-018


April 30, 2010

I made the idle observation on Twitter yesterday that someone had found this blog by searching for the string “proof walt disney smoked pot“. My initial read:

search words finding the blog: “proof walt disney smoked pot”. Really people? Really?

Apparently some folks are amused by this concept.