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JWH-018, Spice & Me

By John Clarke

The Spice smoking mixture range has been one of the most popular “herbal” smokes ever, and now it’s no suprise why.

To get an idea of just how popular these mixtures are, just take a look at this data from Google’s keyword tool:

That’s over 37,000 searches a month for these three search terms alone – Spice is definitely a customer favourite. I also get no less than 500 emails a day from Russia asking if I can ship it there by the kilo. So what’s behind it all?

This paper [PDF; 246 kB] has some interesting things to say. It turns out that the Spice blends all contain JWH-018 as well as two compounds based on CP 47497 – all of them synthetic cannabinoids. These are man made chemicals designed to tickle the same receptors as THC, the active compound in cannabis, so it’s no wonder these smoking mixtures are so powerful. The difference in potency between the Spice blends appears to be accounted for by increasing levels of these CP 47497 homologues.


Since this discovery, Spice has been banned in several countries, including Austria and Germany. The BBC also reported on it and had the following to say:

The UK drugs regulator, the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), is understood to have identified JWH018 in products available in the UK. It is currently in order to determine whether or not it should be classified as a medicinal product – which would mean it should only be available from a doctor.

The UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which advises the government on whether a drug should be made illegal, is also aware of the substance, and is investigating it.

The Spice manufacturers make no mention of these synthetics on their packaging, so a lot of herb-enthusiasts feel somewhat betrayed. Rightly so, I suppose – not being told just what you’re smoking exactly. People have the choice to put things in their body and some Spice smokers might make a different decision if they had all the facts in hand.

But, why?

The typical reaction to this news seems to be the disgust about putting any of these “unsafe” man-made compounds into their body, as though mother nature was some kind of safety net. “These plants have thousands of years of safe use”, they say! But let’s take a closer look…

Take Kratom, for instance. Kratom contains a powerful compound called mitragynine, which acts upon the opioid receptors; the same targets for opium and its derivatives. One alkaloid in kratom, although present in much smaller quantities, is 7-hydroxymitragynine, which is apparently 17x more potent than morphine! While I wouldn’t call this plant harmful, compared to other drugs like cocaine and heroin, it wouldn’t say it was harmless either. The opioid receptors are a dangerous set of receptors to be messing with – the mu subtype responsible for the classic euphoria that accompanies opiate use also stops you breathing if you tickle them too much. Opiates are also addictive, just like kratom can be if you take too much. While this plant may have seen thousands of years of responsible, moderate use, this is no reassurance at all towards its safety.

Now days, people generally don’t toil in the field every day that Newton sends – we have more free time and money to spend than ever before. We can now afford to use large quantities of kratom every day, as well as other entheogens from around the world, but we don’t have any information about this level of exposure to kratom itself or in combination with other stuff. For all we know, taking a mixture of kratom and Salvia divinorum daily could make your eyeballs explode after day 300, or chronic kratom use might give you some kind of evil superpower. Looking at paracetamol as a rather boring example, if you take the odd one every now and then, you’ll be fine, but if you take 8 pills a day every day for a year, you’ll likely end up with some serious condition. There’s also the fact that modern chemistry can create powerful extracts of these entheogens. Who’s to say they’re safe, just because they come from a plant? And what about any other drugs we might be on? Being on a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor like Prozac for depression isn’t uncommon in today’s society – combine them with the “perfectly safe” Banisteriopsis caapi vine, itself a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, and you have a potentially fatal combination of drugs in your system. I bet there are many more contraindications we haven’t even considered.

What about plants like cannabis and tobacco? They’ve also been used responsibly for thousands of years, but it’s only when so many people start to take these things that we realised “Actually, smoking is bad for us”. Besides, our current medical knowledge means we’ve only recently been able to diagnose these kind of things. I’m not sure I want to trust any data from a period when epilepsy might have been down to a demonic possession. How many adverse health effects could we identify in these ancient entheogen users based on what we know today?

So, while we can be uncertain of the long term effects on health of JWH-018 and friends, it seems we can’t actually be certain about the safety of most of the things we happily consume. Yes, they may turn out to be super toxic (although probably not, if they’re given to lab rats), but at least they only act on your cannabinoid receptors. Kratom tends to be prepared as a tea – once you’ve drunk it, you’ve drunk it. If you’ve taken too much, you’ll realise when its already in your blood. It would be much harder to overdose on these synthetics due to the speed at which they get in your system – if you’re too stoned, you won’t want to smoke any more, never mind being physically able to. The cannabinoid receptors they target are also much safter than the opioid targets of kratom. Cannabinoid receptors seem play a modulatory role, rather than being majorly important, so messing with them doesn’t have as drastic an effect. Smoking too much might make you feel a bit sick and dizzy for a while, but you certainly won’t stop breathing.

In all, I think Spice is in the wrong for not making this clear in the first place, but then I’m not suprised they didn’t want to list these compounds in the current political climate. Maybe when the government realises that it is our right to put things into our own bodies, listing these ingredients wouldn’t be an issue.

Even with this new information however, I’ll still be using the stuff. It’s great!.

465 Responses to JWH-018, Spice & Me

  1. Garret says:

    Hi Dave
    I am feeling much better, even after giving up the antidepressants I was on for a few months. I decided not to take the antidepressants because of side effects. I think the antidepressants would prevent my brain from healing naturally. The extreme hypochondria has lifted, so I have stopped worrying about every little jump in body. The only thing that I have now are the prominent eye floaters. These floaters were not in my field of vision/psyche before the legal smokes. I read on the internet that other people have the same problem after using the legal smokes. You say the floaters are caused by the panic attack from the smokes. I have also looked into HPPD and I asked the head guy on the site if I had HPPD or not? He said that I did not have HPPD and I should count myself luckly. He said eye floaters should be taken of the list of HPPD symptoms. Do you think in time they will lift? Am I still subconsciously scanning for the floaters? I am still little confused.
    Can you please send me an email?

  2. dave says:

    Hi Garret ,

    Everyone has floaters , you just never noticed them before , if the optician says alls cool then you just have to except it and move on bro . Don’t think you can get rid of them . peace

  3. someguy says:

    I had eye floaters for about 1-2 months then i took my contacts off and wore glasses and they went away but i still getting some effects even after 8 months since the OD i am getting really bad muscle fatigue in my muscles, i do not feel back to normal still but i’ll live and manage, going to get a MRI on my head soon to see what is up , i have done tons of blood work cat scans the only thing that seems to works is exercise water and not thinking about it too much Fuck this shit

  4. murph says:

    this stuff is wack, it made my dick hurt when i pee n have sex, im married, so it wasnt an std, it scared me bad though, i thought my wife gave me chlamydia, after extensive tests and dr visits they said i was clean and im a hypochondriac. but its this poison spice messed with my urethra. also that purple kush spice is poison
    n, i smoked some and it hit me like rat poison, i could feel it coarsing through my veins like acid. this crap is no good.

  5. Tuxx says:

    love smoking spice have been for months, last night though smoked a really strong blend and felt crazy. thought my heart was beating like 300 times a minute and could feel it in my chest… think im done with this stuff after that trip.. random drug testing means no weed though :/
    makes meh afraid ima die from it

  6. NeverAgain says:

    I am so hapy that people are telling the truth about this shit….maybe it will save someone from getting long term damage to their health. Because really….nobody knows. To me it’s POISON….even the creators said it wasnt good for people to use for gawds sake……I’m not that desparate to get high….it’s not even a fun mellow high…so why bother….why not just go huff on an aerosol can or something if you’re gonna be recklace LOL.

  7. NeverAgain says:

    I am so hapy that people are telling the truth about this shit….maybe it will save someone from getting long term damage to their health. Because really….nobody knows. To me it’s POISON….even the creators said it wasnt good for people to use for gawds sake……I’m not that desparate to get high….it’s not even a fun mellow high…so why bother….why not just go huff on an aerosol can or something if you’re gonna be reckless with your health LOL.

    I’m kidding….don’t try that either!

  8. Rookies says:

    Hey everybody in this post talking about bad experiences, I wish you all would have never tried this stuff. I got a job in the industrial construction industry about 4 years ago. I started buying spice gold when it wasnt even available in the US at head shops. I was buying it from europe over the internet. I have been smoking daily for the last 3-4 years and can say for sure that when used correctly and not by rookies it is great. Before my new job I was a heavy user of all drugs that did not require a needle. Since switching I have not had one bad experience. All you people on hear talking about going to the hospital and having bad experiences – you are the reason that this stuff is now illegal in the US. I wish nobody found out about it and I was still buying it off the internet. Thanks alot Rookies, way to ruin a good thing.

    When you come on hear to tell others not to do it because you had a bad experience, you need to point out that you are a jack ass and dont know what the hell you are doing

  9. Jasper says:

    Hey guys, well its been about three weeks and I feel almost 100% better. I started taking that Megaman multi vitamin from GNC right from the get go and I really think its helped me a lot. stopped taking the pill for a day and still felt fine. This JWH-018 is terrible.

    I still feel distant to a point, however. When I am having fun or out with friends It’s not there, only when I am just kind of chilling in my room or in class. Its gotten a lot better but its still there somewhat. Trying not to think about it and hope my brain heals 100%. The brain is extremely plastic and capable of repairing itself, over time. I’m sure I’ll be fine now.

    Just keep spreading the word about this stuff, its really a dangerous drug for some people.

    Thanks Dave for the uplifting words. I’m sure I’ll be 100% in a few more weeks. Just gotta shake this distance feeling for good.

  10. jay was here says:

    this has been a great read, lots of good info but lots of junk too, i apreciate all the comments left here but use my own judgement as the ‘weight’ i put on all of ur submitted ‘facts’ As i use my own judgement on what i eat, drink, smoke and take up the nostral.
    i have smoked pot for years,(not anymore) i used to get it for free so it was always in abondance. would wake up at 2 in the morning n get up for a bong, stoned 24-7 for probly 2 years. i work in a job that does drug testing now so for the last 8 mounths i havnt touched it. its been great accually. afew days ago a mate told me about this gear he got from the net, claimed it was ‘fu#kn awsum man u gota try it!!’ doesnt cum up on tests. i looked into it and discovered its full of JWH 018, JWH 200, JWH 250, JWH 073, so i gave it a go.
    i had one bucket bong, quite a big cone piece but i guessed it wod similer to pot n thort it wod be a pretty good hit- was heaps more intence. took about 15 mins n i realised i was stoned, then maby 30 mins n i was fuct up! haha was majic, then i lost the perception of time alltogether, i was tripping balls, completly off my head- one, yes one bong, defnly came in waves and then gradually got more relaxd n felt like i was just really stoned. but for a while, few hours maby i was spastic. just like id had a tab of acid.
    all in all i loved it, i was in a great environment, with good mates, ened up watchn ‘kickass’ haha fuckn funny movie when youre tripping, was almost 3d, and haliarous.
    i definitly recomend having a go, was a very positive experience for me and i am investigating a bulk import.
    i dont like the posts on here of people saying dont try it, its poison, it ruined my life blah blah, try to report ur experiences objectivly, keep your facts and emotions seperate.
    if u went and and bort a bottle of wisky n drank it all youd probly hav a bad time too, same goes for ingesting too much of almost any substance…coffee, sugar, crack.
    enjoy with care and take responsibility weather its good or bad time had, the last thing we need is our sad excuse for a government removing more freedom, freedom of choice,

  11. dave says:

    your wrong jay , be careful .

  12. peter says:

    Hi Dave, I was wondering if there was a way to contact one another regarding some questions I have had. I had a bad experience after smoking about 3g a week for 1 year, so 160g in total for an estimate. I never had a bad experience prior to this but got a massive panic attack on Christmas Eve. It has now been 79 days. Like you, I quit caffeine, quit smoking cigs, quit smoking blends and have been eating healthy etc.

    I am still getting light headed, still have boughts of dizziness, still feel short of breath at times, but all my medical tests came back ok. I had an echocardiogram, stress test, pulmonary function test, chest xray, blood tests and urine tests, the only thing I had was slightly elevated ALT liver enzymes.

    How long has it been for you? Do you feel normal yet? I also havent drank and even taking like Excedrin sent me into a panic from the caffeine in it lol. I am just HYPERsensitive to everything right now. I am still getting feelings as though I will pass out, still get nervous and paranoid alot. The day I had my panic attack, I went to the ER and the following week I lost 10lbs because I couldnt eat. It was horrible. Even though I feel about 75% right now, I still worry about getting an anxiety attack. I never had health issues or anxiety before this even while smoking the blends.

    I used to play PS3 games all the time, now they get my adrenaline going and it feels as though I will get a panic attack. I have seen numerous dr’s and they all suggest I try Lexapro for 12 months, but would prefer to deal with it naturally, just I have been scared that these symptoms are still here even at almost 3 months. I am hoping you still visit the site and would love to get in contact with you somehow if possible. Let me know if you know a way, it would help me alot. Thanks Pete

  13. peter says:

    Just wanted to add this, its my symptoms list I wrote out for another site the other day.

    -Loss of appetite that lasted the very first 5 days, I lost 11-13lbs in that times, couldnt eat anything, drink barely any water also.

    -pain in jaw, sharp, didnt go to head, but hurt when I moved jaw, lasted 2-3 days in the beginning, still comes and goes every now again for a couple minutes.

    -Various body aches/joint pains that come and go, seems everyday something else hurts. Still occurs.

    -Chest pains located around the right and left breast area which was really bad the first month, has lessened and occurs maybe 1-2 times a week now. The first month I also had a feeling as though my lungs were burning (like when you breathe in a chemical) when I breathed in.

    -my vision issues (the first 2 weeks, I couldnt even watch tv, it made me sick due to the motion and the fast pace of the shots, also the voices from the tv/music got to me, than for a month after that cleared up, everything such as street signs etc was blurry, finally getting better.)

    – SEVERE anxiety, I was/am hyper sensitive, adrenaline kicked off panic in me for the first 30 days. I even got an attack while playing Super Mario Bros on Wii with my wife and watching movies, it was that bad.

    -Breathing issues (the first 7 days after the panic attack I felt as though if I didnt concentrate on breathing, I wouldnt breathe on my own. That was the strangest feeling I ever felt, I really thought death was imminent.) Since then, I have had shortness of breath out of nowhere. I still work out and am generally fine, but at times when I go to bed or just lying in the recliner it feels as though I cannot get enough air into my lungs. Also still to this day, if there is a scent such as perfume or a candle burning, it feels as though I am suffocating from the scent as weird as that sounds, like I get sick from the smell and worry about not getting the air in.

    – Some severe boughts of lightheadedness where it felt as though I was gonna pass out, never felt that way before either. I have never fainted but I have felt as though I was gonna collapse a few times in the past 78 days since I quit, most recently 2 weeks ago while at work. Felt tingling through my whole body, stood up and legs were like jello and had to hang on to the wall.

    -When I first quit, I slept 15 hours a night the first 2 weeks, since then, I fall asleep fine, but I awaken a minimum 5-6 times a night, EVERY night still going on.

    -Still get a fluttery feeling in my chest and worrisome thoughts, sort of the fear that I will never be ok.

    – I also have been getting irritated easily and erupt with anger out of nowhere when normally I was extremely laid back and mellow, now I feel like Bobby Knight at times (the old coach for Indiana University)

  14. dave says:

    hi peter , yup still pop in here , still curious of my experience of this drug.
    i’m 100% now , it was a gradual recovery over a year , getting much better after about 3 months.
    i’m convinced it was a panic disorder brought on by the drug , for all i know the same would have happened with mj , think my brain had had enough after 20 years of smoking , who knows .
    i did come to the conclusion that all my symptoms were anxiety related , they were very real and scary !
    like you i was a chilled out kind of guy , had a couple of bouts of anxiety in the past (i’m 43 now), related directly to family deaths , they didn’t last long a few weeks , but gave me something to relate to the way i felt after “that night”.
    i read an interesting article that a drug over does can create a sort of post traumatic stress disorder , i’m pretty sure this is what happened to me .
    i’m back to getting pissed , chillin drinking coffee etc but i haven’t smoked a blunt since .it was the love of my life but i think i’m just one of those people who’s brain just says ” no more thanks ” and as i can now see how fragile and precious mental health can be i think me puffing days are over !

    i’m happy for the moderator to pass your email to me or anyone else who wants to contact me , i really do know what your going through and its shit ! peace

  15. Synchronium says:

    Ok, this thread takes way too long to load and clearly overlaps with the Synthetic Cannabinoids Discussion Thread (part 2).

    I’m locking the comments here, but please continue your discussion at the link above, and remember to update your subscription settings if you subscribe to new comments by email or RSS.

    A reminder of the rules:
    1) No links to, or discussion about, specific vendors. If a particular vendor has behaved consistently bad, and you’ve got enough evidence to back it up, you can mention it, provided you still don’t link to them.
    2) Don’t put personal information in comments, including your email address, regardless of the situation. There’s a shitload of reasons behind this rule – the majority of which are for your own benefit and upon none of which I have the time or the inclination to elaborate further.


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