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Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. (2012) Further consideration of the synthetic cannabinoids. London: Home Office.

PDF (Further consideration of the synthetic cannabinoids) - Published Version
PDF (ACMD’s report on ‘Third Generation’ synthetic cannabinoids - November 2014)

Report from the ACMD to the UK Home Secretary regarding synthetic cannabinoids.

In July 2009 the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) provided advice on harmful synthetic compounds (synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists). These compounds had been identified in samples of smoking mixes such as „Spice‟ and have a pharmacology similar to that of cannabis1. At the time, these previously unreported compounds were outside the control of the UK Misuse of Drugs Act (1971). It was concluded that these novel substances contained compounds with the potential for harm, similar to the harms of cannabis. Therefore, the ACMD recommended the compounds considered in that review should be made Class B and placed in Schedule I of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (2001) under a generic definition.

Given the wide range of compounds reported in the literature, the ACMD proposed five generic definitions for the synthetic cannabinoid agonists and five substances listed by name. The purpose of the generic definitions was to control similar compounds that would have associated harms that could be introduced at a later date. The cannabinoids targeted for control under these generic definitions were CB1 receptor agonists, identified by their ability to bind to this receptor. The CB1 receptor in the brain mediates the psychoactive effects of the principle active compounds in cannabis (Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabinol (CBN)).

Recommendation 1
The ACMD recommends that the substances detailed in Annex A, herein termed synthetic cannabinoids, have potential harms commensurate with those of cannabis and should, therefore, be classified and controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) as Class B (2001) under an extended generic definition.

Recommendation 1 above represents an extension to the ACMD‟s 2009 advice on the synthetic cannabinoids.

Recommendation 2
The ACMD has conducted a non-exhaustive search of the potential uses of synthetic cannabinoids and therefore recommends that those compounds covered by the proposed generic definition (listed in Annex A) are placed in Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (2001) on the grounds they have no recognised medicinal use.

Recommendation 3
The ACMD has carefully considered the available legislative vehicles available in making this recommendation for full control under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. In making this recommendation it is important that there is on-going active monitoring of the prevalence and harms of the synthetic cannabinoids listed. The ACMD will look to conduct this through relevant channels and will provide you with further advice should there be substantive developments.

Recommendation 4
Public health messaging, through FRANK, should be kept up to date based on the most recent information available.

Item Type
Publication Type
International, Report
Drug Type
Cannabis, New psychoactive substance
Intervention Type
Harm reduction
October 2012
16 p.
Home Office
Corporate Creators
Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
Place of Publication
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)

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