Synthetic Cannabinoids (Spice, K2)


The British company ‘The Psyche Deli’ (no longer trading) launched the ‘Spice’ brand in London in 2004. The term eventually became used generically for all similar products (much like ‘Hoover’ for vacuum cleaner), especially after the original company stopped trading c.2009, so many products will be advertised as ‘the latest Spice’ or ‘new Spice product’.

The synthetic cannabinoids were first successfully replicated at Clemson University in South Carolina, USA in around 1984 by Professor John W. Huffman, who has since spoken publically about his regret over his role in the development of the commercial products. A number of products (notably JWH-018, his 18th experimental substance) have even borne his initials. A talk he gave to the Carolina Cannabinoid Cooperative was entitled ‘JWH-018 – A Good Compound Gone Bad’. Hoffman has been vocal in condemning the products sold under the ‘Spice’ label, warning that their health implications have not been fully appreciated. He has been quoted as saying “We had no idea that anyone would be stupid enough to use it […] If you want to get high, marijuana is easily available.”