- 公益社団法人 日本薬学会
- YAKUGAKU ZASSHI (ISSN:00316903)
- vol.136, no.1, pp.65-72, 2016 (Released:2016-01-01)
Cases of people experiencing disturbed consciousness or dyspnea, causing traffic accidents, or requiring ambulance transport to hospital due to abuse of law-evading chemical substances have become a serious social problem in Japan. Most law-evading herbal products are marketed as incense or herbs and consist of finely chopped, dry vegetative matter mixed with chemical substances (drugs). Analysis of the chemical substances in these herbal products has demonstrated that they contain synthetic cannabinoids. Because there are many cannabinoid compounds, even if a particular drug is regulated, similar compounds that differ only slightly in structure may be added in their place. Therefore a cat-and-mouse game exists between regulations on chemical substances and their propagation. This paper summarizes the pharmacological actions and dangers of chemical substances contained in law-evading herbal products by focusing on synthetic cannabinoids, as a group of chemical substances contained in these products. Furthermore, comprehensive designations of synthetic cannabinoids have been introduced as a new method of regulation that emphasizes the similarity of chemical structures; this paper also outlines the comprehensive designations. We established a psychic-dependence liability and cytotoxicity screening system for synthetic cannabinoids using animals (behavioral analysis in vivo) and cell cultures (cytotoxicity analysis in vitro). With our drug-screening system, we were able rapidly to evaluate and quantify psychic-dependence liabilities and cytotoxicity of synthetic cannabinoids contained in law-evading herbal products. These scientific data using our screening system contributed to the establishment of legislation for comprehensive designations of synthetic cannabinoids.