This last generation synthetic cannabinoid is, according to the Civil Guard, 80 times more powerful than the traditional herb.

An agent of the Civil Guard puts on a mask to manipulate the merchandise.

Last April, the Civil Guard intercepted at the Alicante airport of El Altet some packages of coffee from Hong Kong and headed to an English bar in Campello, a coastal town about 30 kilometers from there. The wrappers contained, in addition to sweets and the coffee itself, about 12 kilograms of a foreign substance.

It was a compressed powder that was labeled by some means of “synthetic hashish” or “new cannabis 80 times more powerful”, due to its appearance and because it contains several chemical substances, among them last generation synthetic cannabinoids. so new that they didn’t even appear typed on the list of drugs known to the Civil Guard.

Given the ignorance, the agents sent the compound to the Pharmaceutical Inspection and Drug Control Section, dependent on the Government Sub-delegation in Alicante.

“It was like the milk that is given to babies, a powder that was lumpy to the touch”, explains to EL ESPAÑOL David Hermoso, from the Civil Guard of Alicante. “We caught the raw drug, It came camouflaged with coffee and other thingsto diffuse the smell, and sealed “.

This is how the drug was packaged.

This is how the drug was packaged.
Civil Guard

Rather than resin-based hashish, the intercepted drug was shipped as pressed powder. It was not designed, therefore, for immediate consumption but, according to the agents, to mix it with water and spray cigarettes or herbal compounds – herbs or dried flowers – to make synthetic cannabis.

Another alternative for these compounds is to dissolve them in propylene glycol, a colorless and tasteless alcohol that serves as the basis for electronic cigarettes.

What did the package contain?

The world of synthetic drugs – of which cannabinoids represent a small part – evolves at such speed that any analysis is probably out of date with reality.

JWH-018 powder, first generation synthetic cannabinoid.

JWH-018 powder, first generation synthetic cannabinoid.

The first generation of these substances to reach Spain were clones of two compounds, JWH-018 and JHW-073, which bore the initials of their inventor, John W. Huffman, a retired professor of organic chemistry at Clemson University.

Like any synthetic drug, these compounds continuously varied in molecular structure so as not to be detected, but they shared a common name: acronyms (belonging to their discoverer or to the university where they were synthesized) and numbers, for example HU-210 discovered in the Hebrew University of Israel or CP-47, where CP stands for Charles Pfizer, founder of the pharmaceutical company of the same name.

All of these substances stimulate CB1 receptors in the brain, just like marijuana does. The main difference is that natural cannabis stimulates the receptors only partially, synthetic has no limit and can cause death to the consumer.

Since January 2017, Spanish legislation collects these compounds in a generic way in the Official State Gazette, and only mentions the first generation: JWH-018, JWH-073 and HU-210. In contrast, the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) currently monitors about 160 synthetic cannabinoids.

As EL ESPAÑOL has learned, the cannabinoids contained in these bags were, mainly, AMB-FUBINACA and 5-F-ADB. The first of them, although unpublished in Spain, is responsible for the so-called “zombie apocalypse” that happened in New York six months ago, in December 2016, when dozens of consumers of a particularly powerful batch of the compound They overdosed and crawled through the streets of Brooklyn during hours.

An agent of the Alicante Civil Guard observes the contents of the drug bag.

An agent of the Alicante Civil Guard observes the contents of the drug bag.

For its part, 5-F-ABD is classified as one of the most powerful synthetic cannabinoids created to date. Both this research compound and AMB-FUBINACA are related to the death of two individuals in the United States: a 41-year-old woman, who became extremely aggressive after consuming an herbal mixture with ABD-FUBINACA, a compound pharmacologically close to that found in Alicante. , and suffered a coronary thrombosis shortly thereafter. For its part, 5-F-ABD caused the death of a 34-year-old man in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2015. He was found sitting in a chair, fully clothed and holding an open bag of Apollo – a potpourri of herbs to the they had added the drug – in the pocket.

“A smell that made you dizzy”

When the Civil Guard agents took the merchandise to the laboratory and opened the packages, a prominent smell surprised them. “We had to put on gloves and a mask with the strong odor it gave off,” explains Hermoso, “it was a dizzy smell and everything, it was even difficult for us to breathe.”

The order came from Hong Kong, but it may be that this sovereign territory was only a transit point and the drugs had been created in China, where these substances are being produced en masse. As reported by the Chinese government in March, seizures of synthetic drugs grew 106% in 2016 compared to the previous year.

The latest wave of synthetic cannabinoids are derived from two molecules called indole and indazole

The latest wave of new cannabinoids are very different: are derived from two molecules, called indole and indazole, to achieve cannabimimetic elements, which do not have much to do chemically with THC, the active principle of cannabis, but are agonists of the same receptors in the brain.

Specific, the research compound ABD-FUBINACA and its family were created by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer in 2009 as derivatives of indazole. Less than five years later, they began to appear for the first time, already as a drug, on the Japanese black market. In January 2017, the US DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) proposed the inclusion of both molecules on the list of illegal substances whose import is restricted.

Currently, Spain does not allow the commercialization of these compounds as products for consumption, although there is a certain legal vacuum that, in theory, allows them to be purchased as chemical products for research.

Don’t do it.