Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another day, another new synthetic cannabinoid...

The state of Louisiana has just banned another new synthetic cannabinoid derivative which has been associated with greater than 125 hospitalizations in the Baton Rouge vicinity since October 3, 2014 (I am not sure if these were analytically confirmed in blood/urine; I'm assuming not - I do not know any person or lab that is analyzing for this compound).

The newer synthetic cannabinoid is named MAB-CHMINACA, but is probably more widely known as ADB-CHMINACA.

ADB-CHMINACA (pictured above with other chemical structure derivatives) is a member of the now prevalent indazole carboxamide family of synthetic cannabinoids. Its chemical name is N-(1-amino-3,3-dimethyl-1-oxobutan-2-yl)-1-(cyclohexylmethyl)-1H-indazole-3-carboxamide. Chemical formula is C21H30N4O2.

The alphabet soup naming convention is defined as:


Even though it is suspected to be a synthetic cannabinoid receptor 1 and 2 agonist, the pharmacology and toxicology of this compound is unknown at this time. This compound's emergence on the designer drug market is just another part of the cat-and-mouse game that we've seen over the last several years.

"And the beat goes on, the beat goes on
Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain..."


The emergency rule issued by the State of Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals can be found here.

News reports about the ban can be found here and here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Quick Thought for the Night

The Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT) annual conference is wrapping up tomorrow. I'll be glad to get home to my family, bed, and shower, but I cannot express how grateful I am to hold membership in a wonderful organization. SOFT is quite a bit of fun, but it is always a tremendous learning experience.  Here's to 2015 in Atlanta.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Proposed US Federal Legislation on "Synthetic Drugs"

The Protecting Our Youth From Dangerous Synthetic Drugs Act of 2013, also known as S.1323, was introduced into the United States’ Senate on July 18, 2013. It is sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and cosponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). It was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on introduction in 2013 and to the International Narcotics Control Caucus for a hearing on May 14, 2014.

The bill is intended to make it easier for the United States government to control so-called designer drug or “synthetic drug” substances through the process of controlled substance “analogue” (CSA) determination.
A synthetic cannabinoid blend from 2012-2013

So, how does the bill actually propose to do this?
Through the establishment of a Controlled Substance Analogue Committee that will:
§  Be headed by the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

§  Be comprised of chemistry and pharmacology experts from the DEA, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and any other Federal agency that the Attorney General and Secretary of Health and Human Services deems appropriate
The CSA Committee will establish and maintain a list of CS analogues based on a substance’s similarity in chemical structure OR predictive pharmacological effect on the body to already established Schedule I and II substances. The "OR" is important as the Analogue Enforcement Act in its current form is interpreted as an "AND" clause with both chemical structure AND pharmacological effect similarity needing to be met. A second important statement included in the text is that evidence of human consumption is NOT NECESSARY before a substance is designated as a CS analogue. Currently, in order to be deemed an "analogue", a substance has to be for human consumption or at least sold as such.
The bill also details rules on importation of substances determined to be CS analogues by making it unlawful to import said CS analogues as well as the overall process of offically making a substance an "analogue".

It’ll be interesting to follow this bill as it moves through the process. Considering it was introduced 15 months ago, I’m sure the legislation will continue to proceed slowly and deliberately, yet I have no doubts it’ll eventually pass. There have been a few recent media reports surrounding the legislation and its possibility of banning substances in one quick motion with quotes from Sen. Schumer. I do caution - have we learned anything from the past? Let’s remember that the reactionary act of banning substances such as synthetic cannabinoids or substituted cathinones has contributed to the emergence and prevalence of compounds with truly unknown pharmacological and toxicological profiles. Legislation has led to the mess in which we find ourselves. Many of these newly emerging compounds currently have “mix-and-match” chemical structures from previous generations of substances. I’ve used the term “chemical grab bag” to describe them  in the past and I do think this description is entirely accurate. We know little to nothing of these compounds and their absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion in the human body. We know little to nothing of their pharmacology and toxicology. Acute effects? Nothing. Chronic effects? Nothing.

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. We know nothing.
Regardless of what the government does, I don't see this cat-and-mouse game going away. It is here to stay. Will this legislation minimize the game or simply make it worse?

We'll see.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

From Russia with love? Report on a new synthetic cannabinoid

Russia’s Health Ministry has recently reported on 25 synthetic cannabinoid-related deaths, along with more than 700 hospitalizations. The substance in question is simply described as MDMB N-Bz F. Average age of the hospitalizations is estimated at 24. According to this article, the substance has sent users “into vegetative state, provoking dementia and even respiratory arrest.” Other reports of this substance include a male who stabbed himself several times after smoking the synthetic cannabinoid product.

Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service (FDCS) has taken steps to control the substance (as well as any other substance “for a year the moment they are discovered”).
So, what is MDMB N-Bz-F?
No one really knows for sure.

MDMB-CHMINACA is a synthetic cannabinoid derivative of AB-CHMINACA, which is itself a derivative of AB-FUBINACA, which is a derivative of AB-PINACA.
Could MDMB N-Bz-F be a Benzyl Fluoro- derivative? This fluorobenzyl group is also found in FDU-PB-22, FUB-AMB, AB-FUBINACA, ADB-FUBINACA, and FUB-144.
Maybe. Maybe not.
With these ridiculous and illogical alphabet soup naming conventions for substances, I’m not sure we can make many, if any, inferences about the chemical structure for MDMB-N-Bz-F simply from the abbreviation itself. Ultimately, this substance is merely part of the cat-and-mouse game that we've seen over the last several years.
We’ll see if more is reported on this compound. Since I am having difficulty finding any information on this substance from a chemical structure perspective, I’m honestly not sure how this substance was analytically identified by the Russian authorities. If any Russian friends are reading this blog, please chime in. I’d love your perspective on this one.