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Cannabinoids, Synthetic

By

Gerald F. O’Malley

, DO, Grand Strand Regional Medical Center;


Rika O’Malley

, MD, Grand Strand Medical Center

Last full review/revision Jun 2020| Content last modified Jun 2020
Click here for the Professional Version

Cannabis is a term for marijuana Marijuana Marijuana (cannabis) is a drug made from the plants Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica that contain a psychoactive chemical called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana produces a dreamy... read more . Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main active ingredient in marijuana. Synthetic cannabinoids are man-made drugs that are similar to THC. They are usually sprayed on dried plant material and smoked or inhaled as vaporized liquid from e-cigarettes. There are many chemical families of synthetic cannabinoids, and new compounds are being reported regularly.

Symptoms

Different cannabinoids have different effects, and many of the short- and long-term effects remain unknown. However, there are three main categories of effects:

Diagnosis

  • A doctor's evaluation

Doctors usually make their diagnosis based on what drugs people or their friends say were taken. Routine urine drug tests do not detect synthetic cannabinoids, although there are specific tests to detect synthetic cannabinoids in blood, urine, or hair.

People who show signs of severe acute intoxication often need tests to look for complications. Doctors typically do blood tests to check blood count, electrolytes, and kidney function and do an electrocardiography (ECG Electrocardiography Electrocardiography (ECG) is a quick, simple, painless procedure in which the heart’s electrical impulses are amplified and recorded. This record, the electrocardiogram (also known as an ECG)... read more Electrocardiography ) to check heart rhythm. Their urine also may be tested for myoglobin, which indicates muscle breakdown.

Treatment

  • IV sedatives

  • IV fluids

Typical treatments, which include IV sedatives (benzodiazepines) and fluids and supportive care, are usually adequate. People with dangerously high body temperature (hyperthermia Serotonin Syndrome Serotonin syndrome is a potentially life-threatening drug reaction that tends to cause high body temperature, muscle spasms, and anxiety or delirium. Serotonin is a chemical that transmits impulses... read more ), persistently high heart rate or agitation, and high serum creatinine (indicative of possible kidney problems) should be hospitalized and monitored for muscle breakdown and heart and kidney damage.

More Information

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
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Test your knowledge

Radiographic Contrast Agents
Radiopaque contrast agents are used during x-rays and CT scans to distinguish one structure from another or to provide greater detail. A radiopaque contrast agent that contains which of the following substances is most appropriate to use for evaluating blood vessels?
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