The drug that Spice, and most forms of artificial marijuana, contains is called JWH-018. It is considered harmful, but it won’t show up in a drug test. JWH-018 usage is not detectable with the usual biochemical screening methods employed by the authorities for detecting cannabis use from urine specimens. These examinations are used in testing for THC, the primary psychoactive compound of cannabis.
Spice, which has now become a generic term for all synthetic marijuana, is often marketed as ‘herbal incense’, however, some brands market their products as ‘herbal smoking blends’. In either case the products are usually smoked by users. Although synthetic cannabis does not produce positive results in drug tests for cannabis, it is possible to detect its metabolites in human urine. The synthetic cannabinoids contained in synthetic cannabis products have been made illegal in many European countries.
The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) considers it to be a ‘drug of concern’, citing ‘...a surge in emergency-room visits and calls to poison-control centers. Adverse health effects associated with its use include seizures, hallucinations, paranoid behavior, agitation, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, racing heartbeat and elevated blood pressure.’
On November 24, 2010, the DEA announced it would make five synthetic cannabinoids Schedule I drugs within a month using emergency powers. Prior to the announcement, several US states had already made them illegal under state law.
As of March 1, 2011, five cannabinoids, JWH-018, JWH-073, CP-47,497, JWH-200, and cannabicyclohexanol are now illegal in the US. The ban put into effect by the Drug Enforcement Administration for a period of one year, will allow for the study of the effects of JWH-018 on the human body, and whether it should be permanently controlled under United States Law.