"synthetic marijuana" can now be detected in a urine testRedwood Toxicology Laboratory, Inc. (RTL) announced it now offers lab-based testing for the detection of JWH-018 and JWH-073 metabolites in urine. JWH-018 and JWH-073 are the primary synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists responsible for the euphoric and psychoactive effects that imitate marijuana and are among the numerous compounds found in "herbal" incense or smoke blends.

RTL laboratory analysis confirmed JWH-018 and JWH-073 as the active ingredients in 27 herbal mixtures, and established test methods to identify the presence of their metabolites.

JWH-compounds bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and were initially developed as therapeutic agents for the treatment of pain. However, these psychoactive research chemicals are now being sprayed on herbal material and sold as "fake weed" or "synthetic marijuana." Users looking for a "legal high" often turn to popular herbal smoking products marketed under brand names such as K2, K3, Spice, Genie, Smoke, Pot-pourri, Buzz, Pulse, Hush, Mystery, Earthquake, Ocean Blue, Stinger, Serenity, and many others.

Today, herbal blends containing the JWH-compounds are banned in several states and by the U.S. armed forces. Legal restrictions on these compounds are likely to be imposed nationwide. Nevertheless, they are still readily available via the Internet and in many "head-shops" around the country. There have been many reports about the adverse effects of these chemicals including agitation, rapid heart rate, confusion, dizziness, and nausea. In fact, the American Association of Poison Control Centers issued a warning about the dangers of synthetic marijuana products in March 2010.

"We have received numerous requests from our clients for a K2 and Spice drug test," said Albert Berger, General Manager, RTL. "We are pleased that our laboratory research team was able to quickly develop an accurate test that met our clients’ needs and concerns. To our knowledge, RTL may be the only laboratory in the world to offer the metabolite test for these compounds."

RTL's test will utilize the most sophisticated, sensitive, and specific equipment and technology available, LC/MS/MS (liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry) to confirm JWH-018 and JWH-073 metabolites. This test methodology provides the most definitive synthetic cannabinoid biomarker test results.

"Developing a urine test for JWH-018 and JWH-073 was challenging," said Sumandeep Rana, Scientific Director, RTL. "Since parent compounds are not usually found in urine, we had to identify the metabolites, and the detection method relies on monitoring multiple metabolites for each of these compounds. If you only look for the parent drug in urine, you will have a lot of false negatives. The accuracy of this test could have a real impact on the drug testing industry."

Both Berger and Rana emphasized that the new RTL test panel is well suited for a variety of settings that have prevalent access to "fake marijuana." The test will be ideal for a number of criminal situations including drug courts, probation, and parole. It will also help limit teen drug abuse, workplace liability, and facilitate addiction treatment monitoring—all at a very attractive cost to administrators.

Source: Redwood Toxicology Laboratory, Inc.