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Synthetic Cannabinoids

Cannabinoid chemicals are sprayed onto plant material and smoked to appear like marijuana.
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Synthetic Cathinones

Often known as “bath salts,” cathinones contain amphetamine-like stimulants that can be ingested orally, injected or snorted.
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What is Vapor?


Liquid forms of synthetic cannabinoids are ingested using a vapor pen or electronic cigarette that produces little to no odor.
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Synthetic drug facts

Synthetic drug facts

Synthetic drugs include any substance that aims to mimic the effects of illegal chemicals and may contain stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic properties.
What to look for

What to look for

Synthetic drug packaging can range from plastic tubes or bottles to brightly colored foil packets.
What to say

What to say

If you have concern that someone you know may be using synthetic drugs, it is important address the issue directly, with the individual’s best interest in mind.
Frequently Asked Questions


Get the answers to your synthetic drug related questions.

Synthetic Cannabinoid (yellow) and Cathinone (black) Exposure Calls

Hennepin Regional Poison Control Center, January 2010 – June 2014


Past-Year Use of Illicit Drugs by High School Seniors (percent)

  • Marijuana/Hashish 35.1%
  • Adderall 6.8%
  • Synthetic Cannabinoids 5.8%
  • Hallucinogens 4.0%
  • Salvia 1.8%
  • MDMA (Ecstasy) 3.6%
  • Inhalants 1.9%
Source: 2014 National Institute on Drug Abuse

In The News

DEA chief to visit China for talks on synthetic drugs

Jan. 2017 – The nation’s top drug officer is visiting China for the first time in more than a decade to discuss banning more of the synthetic drugs being manufactured by chemists there and illegally sold in the United States. Carreno said the purpose of the visit is to push for more substances to be banned, especially synthetic fentanyl, an incredibly deadly drug that can poison and kill in very small doses. [Full Story]

Synthetic Drug 85 Times More Potent Than Marijuana Caused 'Zombie' Outbreak In New York

Dec. 2016 A designer drug known to be 85 times more potent than marijuana has been identified as the cause for the mysterious, “zombielike” mental state that afflicted several New Yorkers this past summer. While the exact cause of the overdose was not immediately known to investigators, researchers say that they have finally pinpointed the culprit drug after testing the blood and urine samples of the victims. [Full Story]

Opioid Crisis Worsened by Illicitly Manufactured Fentanyl

Dec. 2016 – America’s already serious opioid crisis is being complicated by a new—and deadly—drug. Fentanyl is a powerful pain medication long prescribed for patients with advanced cancer. But now an illicit version of the drug, one that is illegally manufactured, is flooding some communities across the United States, with overdoses and deaths steadily climbing in its wake. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Administration reported more than 700 deaths from 2013 to 2014 related to illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF). [Ful Story]

DEA Bans a Cousin of Deadly Synthetic Opioid Fentanyl

Nov. 2016 The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday added furanyl fentanyl, a deadly cousin of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, to its most restrictive list of controlled substances. The ban comes as the DEA tries to thwart the fast-evolving market for synthetic opioids, including several fentanyl analogues and relics from old pharmaceutical research like the chemical U-47700. Production and use of illicit synthetic opioids are on the rise. [Full Story]

DEA puts deadly synthetic drug ‘Pink’ in same category as heroin or LSD

Nov. 2016 – The Drug Enforcement Administration said on Thursday it had temporarily categorized a synthetic opioid nicknamed “pink” as a dangerous drug, after receiving at least 46 reports of deaths associated with its use. The abuse of opioids – a class of drugs that includes heroin and prescription painkillers – has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 78 Americans die every day from opioid overdose. “Pink,” known to chemists as U-47700, comes from a family of deadly synthetic opioids that are far more potent than heroin, and is usually imported to the United States mainly from China. [Full Story]

This Is U-47700, Once a Lab Experiment, Now a Killer Opioid

Nov. 2016 – In a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse, overseas labs are churning out new synthetic drugs at a furious pace, often staying a step ahead of authorities and helping to fuel America’s rampant opioid crisis. The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs estimates that “new psychoactive substances”—a broad list that includes synthetic opioids—are emerging globally at an average rate of one a week. [Must login for full story]

2 Utah Teens Overdose On Synthetic Opioid U-47700

Sept. 2016 – Just as the Drug Enforcement Agency announced plans to criminalize U-47700, two eighth graders in Utah have reportedly overdosed from the synthetic drug. While a specific number of overdoses caused by U-47700 has not been determined — because the drug is considered new and isn’t easily recognizable on autopsy examinations — the drug is predicted to be linked to nearly 50 deaths in the Unites States so far. [Full Story]

An Even Deadlier Opioid, Carfentanil, Is Hitting The Streets

Sept. 2016 – A powerful drug that’s normally used to tranquilize elephants is being blamed for a record spike in drug overdoses in the Midwest. Officials in Ohio have declared a public health emergency, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says communities everywhere should be on alert for carfentanil. [Full Story]

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