Purity of synthetic cannabinoids sold online for recreational use

Brett C. Ginsburg, Lance R. McMahon, Jesus J. Sanchez, Martin A. Javors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The recreational use of synthetic cannabinoids has recently increased. This increase is due, in part, to the recent availability of inexpensive compound sold legally online in bulk. In particular, JWH-018 (1-pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole) and JWH-073 (1-butyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole) have been found in herbal blends marketed as alternatives to cannabis. Although these particular compounds have recently been emergency scheduled in the United States, online suppliers have shifted sales to other, similar compounds that are not currently scheduled. However, the purity of the drugs obtained from online suppliers is not known. Relative purity of JWH-018 and JWH-073 from three different online suppliers was determined using high-performance liquid chromatography with ultraviolet detection and validated standards obtained from a traditional research chemical supplier. Our results show that JWH-018 and JWH-073 obtained from online vendors was of comparable purity to validated standards, even though the physical properties varied in color, texture, and odor. It is concluded that adverse events following consumption of synthetic cannabinoid preparations is unlikely to be due to impurities or residue from the manufacturing process, but rather to effects of the active drug or interactions with other psychoactive chemicals from herbs blended into products marketed as cannabis alternatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-68
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Analytical Toxicology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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