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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 HPPD​.com 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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