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The identification and quantification of synthetic cannabinoids seized in New Zealand in 2017.


There has been an explosion of new psychoactive substances (NPS) over the past decade, with synthetic cannabinoids comprising one of the more extensive and chemically diverse groups. Synthetic cannabinoids, like other NPS, are continually evolving with slight alterations in chemical structure, which can lead to unintended and harmful effects for the user. Furthermore, the clandestine preparation of plant material containing one or more synthetic cannabinoid can result in an unevenly distributed product, which poses an additional risk to the user of increased doses. This investigation aimed at providing a snapshot of synthetic cannabinoids in New Zealand in 2017, including the concentrations of synthetic cannabinoids in plant material. Overall, ten different synthetic cannabinoids were detected, with AMB-FUBINACA and 5F-ADB comprising the majority of samples analysed. The synthetic cannabinoid AMB-FUBINACA displayed the greatest range of concentration in plant material, from 5 to over 400 g of synthetic cannabinoid per kilogram of plant material. There was also geographical variation in the synthetic cannabinoids depending on where in New Zealand they were seized from.

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