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Europe: Austria, Germany Latest to Ban Herbal Drug "Spice"

Germany and Austria are the latest European countries moving to ban "spice," an herbal drug sold in head shops and smart shops in numerous countries. It is already banned in Switzerland and the Netherlands, and while its legal status in other countries is unclear, some vendors say they will not sell it to residents of Japan, Norway, or the United States.

"Spice" has been described by users as producing a nice high, but various governments have referred to it as "hallucinogenic" or "cannabis-like." Both the Austrian and German governments say "spice" contains a substance called JWH-018, which is described as a synthetic cannabinoid agonist that produces effects in animals similar to THC.

On December 18, the Austrian health ministry imposed an emergency instantaneous ban on the substance, citing the presence of JWH-018 in samples it tested. The ministry said that while the effects of "spice" have not been determined, "the risks are high." The emergency ban is slated to end next week and be replaced by a permanent ban.

This week, the German drug commissioner announced she was seeking a ban by the end of January. The substance is four times more powerful than marijuana, claimed Commissioner Sabine Bätzing. "Consumption of this substance is dangerous for a person's health," Bätzing said in a statement.

But authorities may be overreacting, said Thomas Daldrup, a toxicologist at the University of Düsseldorf, who added that he believes the mixture has become popular because it provides a placebo effect. "It's as expensive as cannabis, and since people suspect that it works the same way, they will believe there is really an effect," Daldrup said.

"Spice" is typically rolled into cigarettes and smoked. The drug has been marketed under a variety of different blends, or flavors including "Spice Silver," "Spice Gold," "Spice Diamond," "Spice Arctic Synergy," "Spice Tropical Synergy" and "Spice Yukatan Fire." The stuff goes for around $15 a gram in European shops.

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Thesis about placebo effect = nonsense

Hi everybody, I'm from Germany and I've watched the Spice debate of the last few months with great interest. I appreciate very much the work of DRCnet, but with this one, you obviously did quite a bad research. Not with regard to the whole of the message, but concerning the claim that the Spice-hype could be the result of a sheer placebo effect. Mr Daldrup said so when he was disappointed by the results of his own analysis of the stuff, when he didn't find any alkaloids in Spice (without taking into account that the substance in question could be a non-alkaloid). That was back in november. In the beginning of december, the small Frankfurt-based pharmaceutical company THC-Pharm (that extracts THC for medical puproses out of low-THC hemp and experiments with other cannabinoids as well) was able to detect JWH-018 in Spice products. After that, even the former follower of the placebo theory admitted that this synthetic substance obviously must be responsible of the strong psychoactive effects of Spice. Many people have tried Spice, some with great expectations, some who had strong doubts on the effects, and every one of them had to admit that Spice actually has such a psychocative effect (although the perception of the effects varied, as it does with THC and other drugs as well).
Altogether, the "Spice story" is a very interesting didactic play about the paradoxes of prohibition. There are hundreds or thousands of so-called "research chemicals" (RCs) that are little known but have psychoactive effects - and can legally be bought when one knows how and where. So this one little English company had the great idea to add one of these RCs to some herb and sell it via head shops (with the note that it's an incense, "not for consumption" and without placing any ads). Some one and a half years later more and more people got to know the effects of the stuff, the media hopped on the train and sales skyrocketed. Now, politicians are keen to outlaw the stuff as soon as possible, but at the same time, the manufactrurers must have become incredibly rich and can close their business. Now, the Spice users will have to return to the illegal stuff that is consumed anyway (just that they were protected against seizures or problems regarding driving under the influence). In fact, another strong argument for decrim.

placebo effect?

i dont get how its possible to describe spice as placebo effects. maybe the doctor toxicologis should go read the latest release of JMS where the university of freiburg published an article about spice and similar blends. they found all of them to contain a different mixture of cannabinomimetics. jwh-018 (a cannabinomimetic aminoalkylindole) and Oleamide (an endogenous primary amide that acts as cannabinoid agonist), are present in products solds here as "smoke" and "skunk a new breed of weed" "xxx chillin". Spice Spice Gold and Spice Diamond all contain cp-47,497 (a synthetic cannabinoid) and two undisclosed analogues of it, one bein a diastereomer of the other homolog, with minimal traces (and of very inconsistent quantity) of jwh-018.

yucatan fire contain more jwh-018 than cp-47,497 on the other hand.

as the illustrious toxicoligst can see, there is nothing placebo about those cannabinomimetics, as studies shows them to be qualitatively similar to thc in effects, althou they are stonger and thus compensated by a reduced dosage.

other ingredients include ethyl vanilline in the spice range (vanilla aroma) large amount of synthetic tocopherols (vitamin E) and other flavoring agents.

eugenol (a strong aromatic oil from the clove plant) is found in "smoke" and "skunk"

both the homolg "X" of cp-47,497 and the indole derivate JWH-018 are strong cannabinoid agonists, and there is NO doubt that the effects of spice are as real as those substances.

I'm so glad that the German

I'm so glad that the German speaking people of the world are making an attempt to clean up their people of drugs.
Now just get into the other drugs, morphine, asprin, etc to have a really clean [people.

typical short-sighted germans=nazis reflex?

come on, dude, please inform yourself a bit before writing this kinda stuff. The first country in Europe to ban this really dubious "herbal mixture" Spice was the Netherlands (remember, the ones with coffee shops where cannabis products are sold openly). Not that I (as a German) would support any drug prohibition, but this is basically about people making legal profit of a strange legal situation (please read my last comment).

Spice is fraudulent

The problem is that Spice and these other cannabimimetic smoking blends is that they list false ingredients on the packaging. They claim to be a mix of various herbs but THC Pharm found that all but one of the herbs listed was included, and it was laced with a synthetic indole cannabinoid called JWH-018. It's most likely that the different blends contain other synthetics in various ratios, because some of the blends which were tested to have low JWH-018 content are reported by users to be more potent than ones with high JWH-018 content.

It's very unethical to sell synthetic drugs barely tested on rats, never tested on humans, to consumers while telling them that it's just a mix of natural herbs. Even if the drug happens to be safe and produces an amazing high. ; )

correction: "all but one of

correction: "all but one of the herbs listed were NOT found"

synthetic cannabinoid?

hmmm...the only synthetic cannabinoid i know of is manufactured by roxanne labs - for the pharmaceutical drug Marinol...

susan stephens
[email protected]

Well, there are actually

Well, there are actually hundreds of synthetic cannabinoids based on multiple molecular skeletons. JWH-018 is an aminoalkylindole cannabinoid. It's completely unrelated structurally to THC and the cannabinoids found in cannabis. It's considered a cannabinoid because it's an agonist at the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors.

Here's a summary of some

Here's a summary of some plreliminary toxicology data: JWH-018 Toxicology


I lived in Germany for four(4) years and I smoked the stuff here. If Germany thinks this is there only problem then maybe they need to get out a little more! I don't think you should drive while smoking the stuff, treat as they treat beer. You don't drive drunk, don't drive smoking! Problem solved. I work hard so what I do in my house is my business. Germany needs to worry more about how they're going to get rid of all the bottom feeding, criminals (turkish people) out of there country. Lets work on that first. Up with Spice, own with turks!

Smoke em' if you've got em'!

Smoke em' if you've got em'!


Yes there are other cannabinoids which are more potent than just JWH-18. I bought JWH at XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX and it got me higher than normal weed. Afterwards I bought their "cannabinoid" product which the guy there won't tell me the ingredients, but it got me even way higher than just JWH-18. So there is something there that we don't know about yet. By the way, I am sure JWH is safe. I just saw some new tests showing that it does not cause cancer and it very well might be anticancer. All I know is that I've smoked it for 2 years and I feel great. It is sad to say, but right now it is easier for me to buy JWH than weed because it has gotten crazy in my neighborhood and the've busted a bunch of people and it is a big hassle to buy. But as we all know this is bullshit because there is no reason that the drug war should continue.

borden's picture


You didn't buy it there, you are the proprietor of that site, seeking free advertising. I know because the IP address where your comment was posted from is identical to the IP address of the site that you linked to. That makes the comment spam. I've only left it up here to make the point.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

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