Synthetic cannabinoids

The rise of synthetic cannabinoids in Australia is a growing public health concern.[1]

Close up: synthetic cannabis

Synthetic cannabinoids first started being used in Europe in 2004, before spreading to other parts of the world, including the United States, New Zealand and Australia.2

Synthetic cannabinoids form part of the broader category of new psychoactive substances (NPS) – new drugs created in illegal laboratories that try to copy the effects of established drugs.2

Manufacturers of NPS drugs will often try to develop them using ‘legal’ chemicals, and will constantly swap out old chemicals for new ones to try and stay ahead of the law.3

The number of synthetic cannabinoid products has continued to increase, with more than 280 unique substances discovered between 2009 and 2019.4

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