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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

Duluth seeing resurgence of synthetic drug overdoses
August 2015 – An increasing number of people are being treated in Duluth’s emergency rooms after using a synthetic drug with an unknown chemical composition, authorities say. Although no one has died from the drug in Duluth, patients are ending up in intensive care units, needing breathing tubes and central lines, with continual observation by nurses due to low heart rates and low blood pressure until they recover, said Elisabeth Bilden, a medical toxicologist at Essentia Health. [Full story]
Synthetic Drugs Believed to Cause Mental Illness
Emerging TrendsAug. 2015 – A stabbing on a Metro train, a baby abandoned in the District, and a woman who pointed a knife at D.C. police and was shot last weekend are three cases that may have a common thread: all three suspects are believed to have been using synthetic drugs. Often sold as relatively harmless looking potpourri in stores, synthetic drugs have been named a possible cause for the rise in crime both regionally and across the country. [Full story]
The Rise Of Synthetic Drugs In The US: What The Growing Trend Means For Public Health

Fourth defendant sentenced in Woodbury teen deathAug. 2015 – Since their first documented appearance in the United States in 2008, synthetic drugs have created a trend that both authorities and health care officials alike are struggling to contain. Due to the ever-changing formulas of these substances, lawmakers find it difficult to pass all-encompassing legislation that makes these new drugs fully illegal. And with these changing formulas comes new chemical combinations that are unknown, unstudied, and extremely dangerous. [Full story]

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