Synthetic Cannabinoids and Synthetic Cannabinoid-Induced Psychotic Disorders (Chapitre 9)
Papanti Duccio*,†, Schifano Fabrizio†, Orsolini Laura†,‡
*Drug Addiction Centre, Latisana, Italy †University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, United Kingdom
‡Polyedra Research Group, Teramo, Italy
The Complex Connection Between Cannabis and Schizophrenia. (Chapitre 9)
© 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Both phytocannabinoids, the psychoactive compounds naturally present in the cannabis plant, and synthetic cannabinoids (SCs; also known as synthetic cannabimimetics) exert their effects through alteration of the endocannabinoid system (Szabo, 2014). There are at least 104 different phytocannabinoids in cannabis, and their combination contributes to the psychoactive effects of cannabis (ElSohly & Gul, 2014). In 1967, the United States (US) National Institute of Mental Health warned law enforcement authorities that, in the future, organized crime might begin producing and marketing “synthetic marijuana” products (Burnham, 1967). Although interest in the discovery and consumption of cannabis-like compounds started during the 1970s (Brown & Malone, 1978; Siegel, 1976), the production of SCs was largely ignored by underground, clandestine chemists over the next two decades, essentially due to the relative availability of natural Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (the main psychoactive cannabinoid present in cannabis) (Karel & Arrizabalaga, 1998). Most SCs were initially synthesized during the 1990s for biomedical research purposes, in parallel with an increasing understanding of the endocannabinoid system. At present, SCs (see Fig. 1) constitute the largest group of novel psychoactive substances (NPSs) monitored by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA, 2015). NPSs are typically defined as new narcotic/ psychotropic drugs that are not controlled by the United Nations’ 1961 Narcotic Drugs and 1971 Psychotropic Substances Conventions, but which may pose a public health threat. It has been suggested that over 700 SC compounds are in fact available, and it is likely that even this is an underestimate (ACMD, 2014). Current high levels of SC availability probably reflect both the overall demand for cannabis-like products and the rapidity with which manufacturers produce and supply new SCs to avoid ever-changing drug controls (EMCDDA, 2015).