The Synthetic cannabinoids SCs were initially developed as pharmacological tools to study the endocannabinoid system and as novel pharmacotherapies, but are now highly abused. The abuse of such products is a serious public health and social problem throughout the world and it is highly challenging to identify which SC was consumed by the drug abusers, a necessary step to tie adverse health effects to the new drug’s toxicity. Two intrinsic properties complicate SC identification, their often rapid and extensive metabolism, and their generally high potency relative to the natural psychoactive Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in cannabis.Additional challenges are the lack of reference standards for the major urinary metabolites needed for forensic verification, and the sometimes differing illicit and licit status and, in some cases, identical metabolites produced by closely related SC pairs, i.e., JWH-018/AM-2201, THJ-018/THJ-2201, and BB-22/MDMB-CHMICA/ADB-CHMICA.We review current SC prevalence, establish the necessity for SC metabolism investigation and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of multiple metabolic approaches. The human hepatocyte incubation model for determining a new SC’s metabolism is highly recommended after comparison to human liver microsomes incubation, in silico prediction, rat in vivo, zebrafish, and fungus Cunninghamella elegans models. Introducing the new synthetic Cannabinoids metabolism and strategies that will enable you best Identify Optimal marker Metabolites.
Since some SCs produce the same major urinary metabolites, documentation of the specific SC consumed may require identification of the SC parent itself in either blood or oral fluid. An encouraging trend is the recent reduction in the number of new SC introduced per year. With global collaboration and communication, we can improve education of the public about the toxicity of new SC and our response to their introduction.