The New Threat

Recent media articles have alerted the mining and other heavy industry to the threat posed by synthetic cannabinoids.  These compounds are often sold legally in Australia under the guise of herbal smoking blends or incense, and, when consumed mimic the effects of marijuana. The issue for heavy industry is these drugs have repeatedly escaped testing, and have thus been under the radar of most urinalysis and saliva testing procedures. On March 1 2011, a number of known cannabinoids compounds were finally outlawed in the United States, with the DEA realizing the threat these compounds pose to life and industry.

In Australia, these synthetic compounds are sold legally under brand names such as Kronic, Spice and Magic Dragon. However, the general public is largely unaware these chemical compounds are in fact “research chemicals and are experimental substances created for laboratory research purposes that are not approved for human consumption and in nearly all cases have never been tested on humans.”[1]

Professor Jan Copeland, Director of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre recently announced her Australian organisation will be undertaking research into these synthetics in partnership with Johns Hopkins University in the US.[2] She has also made it plainly clear people have no idea what they are in fact smoking and that overseas research indicated “long-term use could lead to ‘nasty withdrawals similar to cannabis and also heroin.’”[3]

The concern for heavy industry is pronounced. Dr. Francis Oosthuize from Western Australia’s research agency, ChemCentre also recently stated that the potential side-effects of these compounds “far-outweigh any benefit that may be derived from their inappropriate use.”[4] Some reports have also suggested Kronic and other herbal mixtures may in fact be 4 times stronger than standard marijuana.

CMM Technology has been at the forefront of developing both urine and saliva tests for synthetic cannabinoids compounds such as JWH-018, JWH-073 and other cousin drug compounds. In 2011 it distributed fact sheets to many sites in the mining industry, alerting management and employees to the dangers of these untested compounds. The company has also now rolled out its new synthetic cannabinoids testing procedures, which can be performed by both urinalysis and oral saliva testing methods. Prior to this roll-out, the use of the synthetics was undetectable within mining populations and has posed continued and intensifying threat to safety on site, given the increasing popularity of the substance in certain mining and heavy industry circles. Its odour absence has also complicated and obfuscated detection in dongas and sleeping quarters on site.

If you have concerns about the use of synthetic cannabinoids on your mining site or within employee populations in heavy industry, and require accurate and fast testing for these problematic substances, call CMM Technology on 08 9204 2500.

[1] Spice Factsheet.

[2] Copeland, Professor J. NCPIC E-Zine Dec 2010-Jan 2011



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