Will K2 Spice sellers take a bath? Can you spell MDPV?

Today marks 30 days from the announcement by the US Drug Enforcement Agency that five synthetic cannabinoids will be temporarily classified as Schedule I substances. For our international readers, this means that the compounds present a public health hazard and have no known medical use. We posted on this announcement back on November 27th.

The detailed chemical names of the five compounds are listed here at the DEA Office of Diversion site but their common names are CP-47,497,  JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, and cannabicyclohexanol (a CP-47,497 analog).  Some of them can be purchased on the internet in their pure form but they have been most commonly sold in the context of herbal incense products under names such as K2 Spice, Black Mamba, Black Magic, and others.

When the proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on November 24th, the notice of intent indicated that the ban would go into effect upon publication of the final rule within 30 days. And although news organizations are reporting that the ban is now active, I cannot find the final rule on the Federal Register site for the life of me.

In any case, it appears that K2 marketers have been preparing for the ban by creating new products with undisclosed psychoactive compounds that allegedly circumvent the ban. Blog commenter, Andrew, shared this with us on December 13th:

As someone who generates two streams of income with the help of herbal incense this ban is a blessing. These products have been expanding, changing, and reinventing themselves since they were first released. Most of the larger companies have been working to satisfy the Michigan state requirements (until now the strictest). All of these new Michigan legal products will still satisfy the DEA requirements. As far as the products containing these DEA recognized chemicals, all we had to do was stock up the warehouses, lower the prices, and wait for the paranoid to flood the doors and stock up. This is the best Christmas gift that the good old USofA could have given me.

And here, from an online retailer, K2incenseblend.com (accessed today, December 24th)

Is K2 incense legal?

Page updated December 24, 2010

Most of the K2 product line are completely legal everywhere. The only K2 incense that may be restricted in a very few areas are:

K2 Blonde
K2 Summit
K2 Ultra

There is also a new generation of K2 products that are completely legal everywhere. Not covered by any ban, restriction or regulation!

K2 Sky
K2 Solid Sex
K2 Orisha
K2 Amazonian Shelter
K2 Thai Dream

All of these products can be purchased or resold without concern that they may be restricted and test negative for any known chemicals. Legal everywhere including Michigan, Kansas, Russia…. everywhere!!!

What might be in these products? My best guess comes from recent reports out of Louisiana of hospitalization due to the use of “bath salts” – products labeled “Cloud 9,” “Ivory Cloud,” or “Ivory Wave” that contain compounds such as mephedrone or a MDMA analog, 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). These compounds are not synthetic cannabinoids but rather CNS stimulants that may be perceived similarly to amphetamine, at least in animal models. My colleague, Drugmonkey has more on mephedrone here (and links therein). MDPV appears to be even less studied than mephedrone – the majority of PubMed literature returns on MDPV refer to Muscovy duck parvovirus.

Mephedrone is not expressly illegal in the US but the DEA notes on its information page that its similarity to methcathinone, a Schedule I compound, renders it illegal under the analogue provision of the Controlled Substances Act.

Products seized in Germany in 2007 seem to represent the first reported commercial exchange of MDPV and the Ivory Cloud product showed up in Australia earlier this year. Similar to the case of mephedrone, a DEA PDF on MDPV published this month cites the analogue association:

Currently, MDPV is not a scheduled drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).   However, if intended for human consumption, MDPV can be considered an analogue of a schedule I drug under the CSA (Title 21 United States Code 813).  Therefore, law enforcement cases involving MDPV can be prosecuted under the Federal Analogue Act of the CSA.

I find this story very interesting to follow especially because of the unusually high and sustained number of pageviews I receive on this topic – as well as by my neuropharmacology blogger colleagues, Drugmonkey and dr leigh at Neurodynamics. There remains clear public interest in these “legal highs” and it seems that opportunistic chemists attempt to stay one step ahead of regulatory authorities.

DEA spokewoman Barbara Carreno was quoted Wednesday in the Greensboro News-Record by Dione Wise:

The DEA is aware that many more than five chemicals are available and that second-generation products have been created to elude state bans.

“We can’t study 200 substances, so we take five of the most common,” Carreno said.

With designer drugs, someone can tweak a chemical by a molecule. “That’s an issue. That’s a problem,” she said. “Synthetics is a growing field. …  You really don’t know what you’re getting, what the chemicals are.”

But the US military isn’t allowing any wiggle room. All of these products have been outlawed for servicemen and servicewomen since earlier this year. Most recently, seven Army soldiers were punished by court martial in Alaska and ten midshipmen at the US Naval Academy face expulsion for sale and use of spice products.

For those of you stumbling on this post via a Google search, please do us all a big favor – especially at the holidays. Even though some of this stuff could be considered legal, PLEASE don’t drive while using any of these products.

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35 Responses to Will K2 Spice sellers take a bath? Can you spell MDPV?

  1. jwh-250 says:

    The new chemical is JWH-250. There are over 500 known synthetic cannabinoids and its unlikely the DEA has tests for all over them. But the real question is if they are JWH-250 is an illegal analog of the newly scheduled synthetic cannabinoids?

    MDPV and MCAT are swallowed or snorted, not smoked. MCAT was the 4th most popular drug in the UK but it has became scarce since it was banned and, more importantly, China stopped exporting the chemical in August.

  2. Justin says:

    A few others to note off the top of my head that will still be legal include:

    jwh-081 (not as good as 018)

    am-2201 (claims of 3x stronger than 018 and last longer….not sure but it did get my bonzi tree very high =)

    Havent tried:


    There’s also whole series of WIN rc’s that I haven’t tried.

    Those will just be a few of the chemicals still legal.

  3. joe d. says:

    K2 isn’t safe to buy anymore or sell, checkout this site from the old people that ran realk2/com I’m just happy there back online. herbalincenseusa(dot)com is there new site. lets just wait and see what happens next.

  4. k8 says:

    I don’t understand how come these don’t show up in our current urine drug tests that we use with clients. I have a class full of drug offenders who proudly claim they are using these substances and claim, “You don’t know if I am or not, and you can’t do anything about it.” Which is half true. I can tell when they’re using, but it is a fact that I can’t “do” anything about it until it shows up in a drug test. Is it because they are synthetic that they don’t show?

    I have the feeling the manufacturers will just keep getting more and more creative.

  5. BikeMonkey says:

    My local cigar/hookah and (temporarily) Spice/K2/etc selling establishment was blowing out these products over the last week. The guy was clearly aware of the deadline and was planning to meet it.

  6. David says:

    Thanks for all of the good discussions, folks.

    With regard to JWH-250, it does differ from many of Huffman’s other compounds by the substitution of naphthalene with a methoxyphenyl acetate linkage to the indole. Whether this gets around the analgogue provision is anyone’s guess, especially since the definition of “analogue” is quite vague. If indoles were outlawed, we couldn’t have some of our enodgenous amino acids or neurotransmitters! It’ll be very interesting to see how the DEA proceeds but I’d look for similar local actions to follow as has occurred with old K2.

    My dear friend, k8: you’ll only find what you’re looking for. It’s not that you can’t detect these compounds and it’s not entirely because they are synthetic. You most certainly can detect them but it depends what kind of screening method your agency uses. But a screening lab has to be set up to run urine and blood samples against known reference standards (authenticated drugs) for each of these compounds. According to my chemistry colleagues, it’s not all that hard but it costs money. And every new chemical must have a validated assay behind it. How much your enforcement agency is willing to spend for more and more tests determines whether these will be detected in urinary screens.

    Bikemonkey, looking forward to sharing my once-a-year cigar with you at some point!

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  8. k8 says:

    Thanks, David. That makes perfect sense to me. We’re not about to start doing blood tests and there currently is no mass-produced urine test that is affordable enough to purchase for quanitity use. Oh well. Onward and upward.

  9. andrew says:

    Acquired 6gr. rcs-4. Made batch at 40mg./gram (if this were 018 it would be extremely potent.) Didn’t like it, sat around for hours asking my dog, “is it working…or not?” My doggie wasn’t sure, he wanted to believe it was working, he didn’t want his owner to be out $67 bucks (It was a sale, normally more expensive.) But in the end Fido concluded that he may have felt something…but that it may be a placebo effect. Either way I’d have to say rcs-4 SUCKS! Don’t waste your time.
    If anyone knows of a real good substitute for 018, please post.

  10. Justin says:

    I did:

    jwh-018 is still currently legal though

  11. Justin says:

    The whole real K2 thing is a scam set up by those “verified” websites. All of the “verified” websites are owned by the same company. Don’t believe a word these people are telling you. They are all lies.

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  13. Bob says:

    YES it’s because they are synthetic. The pee test looks for certain METABOLITES(pieces) of THC(the active ingredient in MJ) and those pieces are not what makes up this class of compounds at all, which is part of why they weren’t considered analogs from the start.

  14. Bob says:

    Aren’t there other ones that don’t substitute the napthalene ring that way, but are still different enough that another ban may need to be passed to cover them separately? That is, 250 is different as you mentioned, but I think I’ve heard 081 may be similarly different, and aside from the hundreds in the JWH series, there are many other RC cannabinoids that I’m afraid the industry could possibly shift to if given the grace period. (A grace period of 30 days, which I think shows the DEA’s intent to not put the vendors out of business and stop any potential health hazard)

    My biggest concern is that this may happen and that these other synthnoids may be much more harmful and I am concerned for three reasons:

    1. They are usually less potent which means that people may consume more of the compound to reach a desired effect. This becomes an issue because if there is any toxic by-products, or the compound itself is toxic; requiring 2-4x the dosage can INCREASE risk of health hazards even if the compound is weaker pharmacologically.

    2.They may be more potent on one CB receptor and less on another so that someone could consume large amounts trying to reach the same effect as 018 on CB2 for example, and will never get it, while building a resistive tolerance to stimulation of CB1 which could very well have negative effects itself.

    3.They are simply less tested- people have done 018 for years now, but maybe not 081- for all we know you could go blind in five years from the doing the stuff once.

    One guy here mentioned AM 2201 which I heard is 3x as potent as 018, but I know one guy that used it and complained of stomach issues.

    So I’m afraid that any health hazards 018 or the other banned ones posed, may have been more apparent and manageable and for that reason, benign than a more subtle compound that seems weaker but MAY in fact, have much stronger negative long-term health effects.

  15. ron says:

    so i was wondering if now that some jwh’s are banned will employers or employment testing labs start testing for the banned ones?

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  18. Audi says:

    where to buy these legal products?

  19. derp says:

    MDPV isnt an analog of MDMA, its just a 3,4-methylenedioxy derivative of pyrovalerone (a schedule 5 drug)

  20. victor says:

    can am2201 be made into a pill?

  21. David Kroll says:

    I see what you’re saying – I guess it just depends what one considers an “analog,” an issue I discussed at my other blog.

    Both MDPV and MDMA are 3,4-methylenedioxyphenylalkylamines but, yes, chemists would not say these were analogs.

  22. Travis Monaghan says:

    hahaha thats funny

  23. Travis Monaghan says:

    probably. I know I have eaten JWH.
    It wouldn’t be very economic though…

  24. victor says:

    we sell jwh..and try new 4-fa

  25. John Doe says:

    JWH-250 Rocks! Just as potent from much personal experience. Hope this helps.

    Contrary to previous reports that a DEA emergency ban on synthetic cannabinoids had gone into effect on December 24, that emergency ban has been delayed. The DEA published a notice in the federal register dated January 7 that its November 24 notice of intent to institute an emergency ban had to be revised due to “administrative errors.”

    DEA spokesperson Barbara Carreno confirmed to the Chronicle January 13 that the ban was not yet in effect. “We’re still writing the regulations,” she said, explaining that, “While we must give the public 30 days notice, that doesn’t mean it automatically becomes illegal. We’re working diligently on it and hoping to get it done quickly.”

    The delay was forced by legal challenges from the Retail Compliance Association, a newly-formed retailers’ organization created to block the DEA ban. “They need to stop hurting the small businesses that sell these products, and at least have a grip on the basics of the laws that govern their actions” said Dan Francis, the group’s executive director, in a press release. “These rule do apply to them, they can’t just declare that they don’t and have it that way, we are a country of laws, passed by congress, not dictated by the DEA.”


  26. Dan says:

    I craft and enjoy products with Jwh-250 and AM-2201 (and pay sales taxes). After three months or so of casual light use, I can’t report any adverse issues. Same with my customers. Before launching the business I did tons of research without finding anything dangerous from responsible use. Yes, I found a lot of fear-mongering hyperbole from TV and print news trying to sell ads, but no documented permanent harm or fatalities. That’s better than Kentucky Fried Chicken, Marlboro or Seagrams (or many other popular products) can claim. If public safety was truly in jeopardy, I’d be all for tougher legislation. Au contraire. I cannot fathom how it makes sense to waste more precious taxpayer dollars with burdensome legislation, especially in these days of fiscal austerity.

  27. SWIMER says:

    If they would just legalise natural stuff then all of this wouldnt happen. This could however change policy if they can not keep up with the market of ever changing blends and ways that the producers of the blend packs cover up what is in there by mixing so many different chemicals.

  28. Jon says:

    The new k2 has synthetic cannivoids that didn’t get bajned. Why would they put an stimulant in a marijuana substitute. Stop reading retarded news stories

  29. David Kroll says:

    Jon, if I understand what you’re saying, you may not have read the entire thread. Readers let me know that JWH-250 is likely the major cannabimimetic in second-generation K2 products. I now recognize that the bath salt products are entirely different.

    However, I’d be careful in thinking that these new products have synthetic compounds that won’t be banned. Not only will the DEA rule cover these compounds via the Analog Act but individual states are banning huge swaths of these compounds.

    Carry on, Jon.

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  31. lcf says:

    How do I contact you to purchase?

  32. Brooke says:

    A big shout out to my friend K8 for recommending this site. I am a person who works in the MH field at a correctional institute. We are seeing more and more of the ‘bath salts’ creating signs and symptoms of psychosis that have lasted anywhere from 5 to 25 days after the offender has used these synthetic chemicals. Rightfully so, as they are on parole and are looking for the ‘legal’ way to get high. One person continues to have ’bouts’ of psychosis and clarity. At times we are speculating malingering, and he switches from normal conversations to intense visual hallucinations. Thank you to Mr. Kroll for the continued research on this and for all the readers input.

  33. Andrew says:

    jwh-122 or jwh-307

  34. lick`em says:

    ive tried a “salt” called “white girl” here in N.C. and i have to say, it was as strong or stronger than any meth i have ever done. i hope this stuff is taken off the market soon. i cant emagine what could happon if a child got a hold of this stuff- it would only be bad. i just walked into this tabaco shop in down town china grove and asked for “bath salts” and i was pointed to the glass counter. there was about 6 different types, all saying “not for human consumption” but, the man behind the counter was only to happy to tell me what the best kind was and how much to use each time. plants or taking a bath was never mentioned. when these compounds are banned the closet chemist is going to be rich in short order. remember- drugs dont go away just from being banned, they just become expensive, put that in your pipe and smoke it DEA.

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