Trend Reports

Synthetic Cannabinoids in the United States

Q3 2022

This report provides up-to-date information regarding the status of synthetic cannabinoid prevalence and positivity within the United States. Novel psychoactive substances (NPS), including synthetic cannabinoids, continue to pose great challenges for forensic scientists, clinicians, and public health and safety personnel. Synthetic cannabinoids have been implicated in an increasing number of emergency room admissions, death investigations, and intoxication events in corrections populations. Maintaining a current scope of analysis can be challenging, requiring comprehensive analytical methodologies and reference materials for identification(s).

Our laboratory utilizes novel approaches for the analysis of drugs in biological samples and seized materials using comprehensive non-targeted data acquisition by gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and liquid chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC-QTOF-MS). The scope of analysis contains more than 900 drugs, including a vast majority of NPS and their metabolites. This approach allows for real-time identification of novel synthetic cannabinoids and further data analysis of important trends. This project was conducted in collaboration with the toxicology and criminalistics laboratories of NMS Labs. Forensic case types linked to these results include illicit drug investigations, medicolegal death investigations, and/or driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) investigations. The results in this report represent the total number of NPS identifications at the CFSRE during this quarter, including those from sample-mining, data-mining, and/or esoteric testing.

Select Positivity: Q2 2018 to Q3 2022

Synthetic Cannabinoids Identified

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