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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

Dangerous Drugs: Why Synthetic-Cannabinoid Overdoses Are On the Rise

July 2016 – Overdoses from synthetic cannabinoids are on the rise, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Synthetic cannabinoids, sometimes called K2 or spice, were first found in the U.S. by authorities in 2008, according to the CDC. Since 2010, the number of overdoses from these compounds has increased each year, according to the new report, published today (July 14). [Full Story]

Dozens hospitalized in NYC for apparent K2 overdoses

July 2016 – NEW YORK — Police said at least 33 people were hospitalized Tuesday after showing signs of overdosing on synthetic marijuana in Brooklyn, CBS New York reported. The incident happened in the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, in the same area where the station reported on the problem last month. [Full Story]

Bath Salts, Smiles and Spice: The Dangers of Synthetic Drugs

Jun. 2016 – They are a serious public health threat. In order to circumvent existing drug laws — as well as evade urine testing that would identify them — unscrupulous manufacturers are constantly creating new formulas, which means no one knows what these drugs consist of, what the health effects are or what dosages are dangerous. [Full story]

Scientists, US Post Office team up to fight synthetic drug

Jun. 2016 – Investigators at the National Forensic Lab with the US Postal Inspection Services are now working together to fight back against the trafficking of illegal synthetic drugs through the mail. [Full story]

How dealers are evading police with deadly synthetic drugs

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 1.04.51 PMMay 2016 -A new strategy by drug dealers to evade the law is catching up to them. A mother and son duo recently pleaded guilty to distributing about $6 million worth of drugs. Yet dealers continue playing a shell game in hopes of making new users out of people who might not normally try drugs. [Full story]


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