Variation in commercial smoking mixtures containing third-generation synthetic cannabinoids

Anca Frinculescu, Catherine L. Lyall, John Ramsey, Bram Miserez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (SciVal)


Variation in ingredients (qualitative variation) and in quantity of active compounds (quantitative variation) in herbal smoking mixtures containing synthetic cannabinoids has been shown for older products. This can be dangerous to the user, as accurate and reproducible dosing is impossible. In this study, 69 packages containing third-generation cannabinoids of seven brands on the UK market in 2014 were analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively for variation. When comparing the labels to actual active ingredients identified in the sample, only one brand was shown to be correctly labelled. The other six brands contained less, more, or ingredients other than those listed on the label. Only two brands were inconsistent, containing different active ingredients in different samples. Quantitative variation was assessed both within one package and between several packages. Within-package variation was within a 10% range for five of the seven brands, but two brands showed larger variation, up to 25% (Relative Standard Deviation). Variation between packages was significantly higher, with variation up to 38% and maximum concentration up to 2.7 times higher than the minimum concentration. Both qualitative and quantitative variation are common in smoking mixtures and endanger the user, as it is impossible to estimate the dose or to know the compound consumed when smoking commercial mixtures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327–333
JournalDrug Testing and Analysis
Issue number2
Early online date10 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • 5F-AKB48
  • 5F-PB-22
  • 5F-QUPIC
  • Smoking mixtures
  • Synthetic cannabinoids


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