JWH-018 Systematic (IUPAC) name Naphthalen-1-yl-(1-pentylindol-3-yl)methanone Clinical data Pregnancy cat. ? Legal status Schedule I (US) Routes Smoked, Oral Identifiers CAS number ATC code ? PubChem ChemSpider ChEMBL Chemical data Formula C24H23NO Mol. mass 341.45 g/mol Physical data Solubility in water hydrophobic, n/a mg/mL (20 °C) (what is this?)
JWH-018 (1-pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole) or AM-678 is an analgesic chemical from the naphthoylindole family, which acts as a full agonist at both the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, with some selectivity for CB2. It produces effects in animals similar to those of THC, a cannabinoid naturally present in cannabis, leading to its use in synthetic cannabis.
John W. Huffman, an organic chemist at Clemson University, synthesized analogues and metabolites of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal active component of cannabis. JWH-018 is one of these analogues, with studies showing an affinity for the cannabinoid (CB1) receptor five times greater than that of THC. Cannabinoid receptors are found in mammalian brain and spleen tissue; however, the structural details of the active sites are currently unknown.
On December 15, 2008, it was reported by the German pharmaceutical company THC Pharm that JWH-018 was found as one of the active components in at least three versions of the herbal blend Spice, which has been sold as an incense in a number of countries around the world since 2002. An analysis of samples acquired four weeks after the German prohibition of JWH-018 took place found that the compound had been replaced with JWH-073.
JWH-018 is a full agonist of both the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, with a reported binding affinity of 9.00±5.00 nM at CB1 and 2.94±2.65 nM at CB2.
JWH-018 administered to rats resulted in the excretion of an indole-N-desalkyl metabolite as well as several hydroxylated metabolites in urine. The highest signals were observed for the hydroxylated N-desalkyl metabolites. Hydroxylation took place on the side chain and in both aromatic systems, the naphthalene and the indole rings, as could be shown by mass shift of the corresponding fragments and by MS3 experiments. Human metabolites were similar although most metabolism took place on the indole ring and pentyl side chain, and the hydroxylated metabolites were extensively conjugated with glucuronide.
At least one case of JWH-018 dependence has been reported. On October 15, 2011, coroner reports released to the media reveal that the death of a South Carolina college basketball player was attributed to "drug toxicity and organ failure" caused by JWH-018. The user consumed JWH-018 daily for eight months. Withdrawal symptoms were similar to those experienced as a result of cannabis dependence. JWH-018 has been shown to cause profound changes in CB1 receptor density following administration, causing desensitization to its effects more rapidly than related cannabinoids.
Compared to THC, which is a partial agonist at CB1 receptors, JWH-018 (and many of its analogues) are full agonists. This means that users may experience far more intense effects compared to smoking cannabis. THC has been shown to inhibit GABA neurotransmission in the brain via several pathways. JWH-018 may cause intense anxiety, agitation, and, in rare cases (generally with non-regular JWH users), has been assumed to have been the cause of seizures and convulsions by inhibiting GABA neurotransmission more effectively than THC. Cannabinoid receptor full agonists may present serious dangers to the user when used to excess.
Various physical and psychological adverse effects have been reported from JWH-018 use. One study reported psychotic relapses and anxiety symptoms in well-treated patients with mental illness following JWH-018 inhalation. Due to concerns about the potential of JWH-018 and other synthetic cannabinoids to cause psychosis in vulnerable individuals, it has been recommended that people with risk factors for psychotic illnesses (like a past or family history of psychosis) not use these substances.
According to the writer Kevin Keck, who sampled various brands of herbal incense containing JWH-018 for research on the subject, "A small amount does produce visual distortions and a marijuana-like buzz. I can easily understand how individuals with little or no experience in navigating this psychic terrain could experience extreme panic attacks that prompt them to seek medical attention...It is not a problem that responsible people use [JWH-018], it is a serious problem that naïve and foolish people use [it]. It is the same problem that surrounds alcohol and any other number of legal prescription drugs."
Detection in biological fluids
JWH-018 usage is not detectable with the usual immunoassay screening methods employed for detecting cannabis use from urine specimens. Determination of the parent drug in serum or its metabolites in urine has been accomplished by GC-MS or LC-MS. Serum JWH-018 concentrations are generally in the 1-10 μg/L range during the first few hours after recreational usage. The major urinary metabolite is a compound that is monohydroxylated on the omega minus one carbon atom of the alkyl side chain. A lesser metabolite monohydroxylated on the omega (terminal) position was present in the urine of 6 users of the drug at concentrations of 6-50 μg/L, primarily as a glucuronide conjugate.
Country Date of Ban Notes Austria The Austrian Ministry of Health announced on 18 December 2008 that Spice would be controlled under Paragraph 78 of their drug law on the grounds that it contains an active substance which affects the functions of the body, and the legality of JWH-018 is under review. Belarus 1 January 2010 Canada June 3, 2010 JWH-018 is not a controlled substance in Canada. Note: the most current CDSA can be found here France February 24, 2009  Germany 22 January 2009  Ireland 11 May 2010 An immediate ban was announced on 11 May 2010 by Minister for Health Mary Harney. Italy 2 July 2010  Latvia 28 November 2009 Poland  South Korea 1 July 2009  Sweden 30 July 2009 A bill to ban JWH-018 was accepted on 30 July 2009 and was in effect on 15 September 2009. Estonia 24 July 2009 Romania 15 February 2010 Russia 22 January 2010 Ukraine 31 May 2010 United Kingdom 23 December 2009  United States 1 March 2011 JWH-018 and four similar cannabinoids were classified as Schedule I controlled substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration on March 1, 2011, making their possession and use illegal in all 50 states. The law allows for a one-year DEA study of the effects of JWH-018 on the human body to determine and whether it should be permanently classified as Schedule I in the United States.
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- JWH-018 Report Psychonaut Web Mapping Research Project
Cannabinoids Plant cannabinoids Cannabinoid metabolites Endogenous cannabinoids Synthetic cannabinoid
receptor agonistsClassical cannabinoids
A-40174 · A-41988 · A-42574 · Ajulemic acid · AM-087 · AM-411 · AM-855 · AM-905 · AM-906 · AM-919 · AM-926 · AM-938 · AM-4030 · AMG-1 · AMG-3 · AMG-36 · AMG-41 · Dexanabinol (HU-211) · DMHP · Dronabinol · HHC · HU-210 · JWH-051 · JWH-133 · JWH-139 · JWH-161 · JWH-229 · JWH-359 · KM-233 · L-759,633 · L-759,656 · Levonantradol (CP 50,5561) · Nabazenil · Nabidrox (Canbisol) · Nabilone · Nabitan · Naboctate · O-581 · O-774 · O-806 · O-823 · O-1057 · O-1125 · O-1238 · O-2365 · O-2372 · O-2373 · O-2383 · O-2426 · O-2484 · O-2545 · O-2694 · O-2715 · O-2716 · O-3223 · O-3226 · Parahexyl · Perrottetinene · Pirnabine · THC-O-acetate · THC-O-phosphateNonclassical cannabinoidsBenzoylindolesNaphthoylindolesNaphthylmethylindoles
JWH-175 · JWH-184 · JWH-185 · JWH-192 · JWH-194 · JWH-195 · JWH-196 · JWH-197 · JWH-199Phenylacetylindoles
Cannabipiperidiethanone · JWH-167 · JWH-203 · JWH-249 · JWH-250 · JWH-251 · JWH-302 · RCS-8NaphthoylpyrrolesEicosanoidsOthers
Allosteric modulators of
Org 27569 · Org 27759 · Org 29647
AM-251 · AM-281 · AM-630 · BML-190 · CAY-10508 · CB-25 · CB-52 · CB-86 · Drinabant · Hemopressin · Ibipinabant (SLV319) · JTE-907 · LY-320,135 · Taranabant (MK-0364) · MK-9470 · NESS-0327 · O-1184 · O-1248 · O-2050 · O-2654 · Otenabant · Rimonabant (SR141716) · SR144528 · Surinabant (SR147778) · TM-38837 · VCHSR
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