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    Black Mamba Spice: A Cannabinoid Cocktail
    By Enrico Uva | November 25th 2011 04:04 AM | 5 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Enrico

    I majored in chemistry, worked briefly in the food industry and at Fisheries and Oceans. I then obtained a degree in education. Since then I have...

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    One of the most popular recreational drugs in recent years has been Black Mamba. Until a few months ago even eBay sold it as an incense or herb mixture, but it is actually intended to be smoked like marijuana. Drug merchants lace the botanical materials of Black Mamba, a spinoff of Spice, with various synthetic cannabinoids that are more potent than the THC found in marijuana or hashish.

    The physiological effects of synthetic cannabinoids include increased heart rate and blood pressure. Psychological effects among users include miild euphoria, relaxation, changes in perception of time and surroundings, and intense sensory experiences. Short-term memory and reflexes become impaired. Hospitals have reported cases of seizures among users who had no prior neurological problems, but there is no good data revealing the likelihood of such occurrences.


    The molecules of lab-produced cannabinoids have tail projections similar to that of THC molecules found in marijuana. This allows them to interact with the CB1 receptors found mainly in the brain and which are "normally reserved" for the body's own anandamide, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in pain, pleasure and appetite. The cannabinoids, for the most part were originally produced because they were (and still are) viewed as potential analgesics and as drugs that can offset the side effects of chemotherapy.


    The concoction of synthetics found in Black Mamba include JWH-073, JWH-175,  JWH-018 and analogues of CP-47,497. Compared to THC, synthetics bind more strongly to the receptors, accounting for the more pronounced physiological effects. When compared to synthetic opiates,
    cannabinoids feature far more variation in structure. Even the length of the key binding hydrocarbon tail varies. In JWH-175 and JWH-018, the tail consists of 5 carbons(like THC) instead of the 6 found in CP 47,497 and its analogues(like anandamide), and JWH-073 only has 4. Moreover, there are widely different molecular skeletons attached to the tail, ranging from a heterocyclic system in the JWH series to the phenolic groups in the CP analogues. This is pure speculation on my part, but perhaps there are far more cannabinoid receptors involved than the ones identified so far. In smell, for instance, where varying structure among similar molecules initially caused much confusion among scientists trying to understand the mechanism, it turned out that the same odiferous molecule has to interact with several different nasal receptors for the signal to get to the brain.



    If one examines the chemical analyses of Spice or Black Mamba, hoping for consistency in composition, one will be disappointed. People producing these drugs seem to toss in a variety of cannabinoids, similar to the way that many psychedellic drugs sold in the late 1970's  with the "acid" or "mescaline" label actually contained amphetamine derivatives. Most of the synthetic cannabinoids were legal until recently. Beginning in March 2011, US Drug Enforcement Administration placed 5 synthetic cannabinoids into "schedule 1" for a 12-month period. This means that they are now in the same class as other "hard drugs", so possession is illegal. Prior to that, states had taken upon themselves to ban them.

    Illegalization, of course, causes a spinoff of problems. Research, education, and centralized quality control are a better alternative.

    Sources:
    1. Synthetic Cannabinoids in Oral Fluid
    http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/pres/jat/2011/00000035/00000007/art00005
    2. The Secret “Spice”: An Undetectable Toxic Cause of Seizure
    http://nho.sagepub.com/content/1/4/182.extract

    3. Spice, K2 and the Problem of Synthetic Cannabinoids
    https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=255578
    4. Wikipedia:
    Cannabinoids
    JWH-018 and similar articles

    Comments

    vongehr
    Damn, just legalize pot already and nobody will smoke this crap.
    UvaE
    Like I said, when drugs are banned, things get worse! Meanwhile it gives raison d'etre to drug enforcement agencies and sends the underworld more business.
    "similar to the way that many psychedelic drugs sold in the late 1970's with the "acid" or "mescaline" label actually contained amphetamine derivatives."

    Do you have any definite information about this, Enrico? I'd be particularly interested to know what was going round as "mescaline" in the early 1970's.  Thanks.
    UvaE
    Sorry no exact reference. I remember seeing the data in a library textbook when I was in college about 32 years ago. Samples had been analyzed from several major American cities, including Chicago.

    From the drug use of several acquaintances in that same time period, it also seemed to apply to Quebec where we lived because from their accounts,  they were not experiencing the typical effects of mescaline.

    Ok, never mind. The stuff I used worked very much according to the book but that was the UK in 1972, not your side of the Pond in the late 70's.  I would be more inclined to believe it was acid rather than speed if it wasn't authentic mescaline. But it seemed very different from the "little bit of LSD" that I did get familiar with, so maybe it was the real thing.