Synthetic Cannabinoids: A Summary of Selected Phenomena With Respect to Behavioral Pharmacology and Abuse Liability

B. T. Burrows, L. R. Watterson, J. Egnatios, Michael Olive

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


Synthetic cannabinoids (SCBs) are a large family of molecules that are functionally similar to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the principal psychoactive constituent found in cannabis. Each new SCB evolves with successive structural modifications while retaining cannabis-like psychoactive effects. As a result, new generations of SCBs have become an established part of the worldwide recreational drug landscape. The existing body of literature on the topic of SCBs as drugs of abuse is growing at an exponential rate, and a comprehensive review of all the literature would be beyond the scope of this chapter. Therefore, what follows is a summary of selected phenomena that have emerged in the cannabinoid literature with respect to the behavioral pharmacology, and abuse liability of SCBs. These phenomena include: (1) cannabinoid receptor subtype 1 (CB1) receptor-mediated characteristic tetrad effects (suppressed locomotion, antinociception, hypothermia, and catalepsy) in laboratory animals; (2) discriminative stimulus effects of SCBs relative to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol; and (3) tolerance and cross-tolerance to the effects of SCBs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Cannabis and Related Pathologies
Subtitle of host publicationBiology, Pharmacology, Diagnosis, and Treatment
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780128008270
ISBN (Print)9780128007563
StatePublished - Jan 24 2017


  • Agonist
  • CB receptors
  • K2
  • Psychoactive effects
  • Spice
  • Synthetic cannabinoids
  • THC
  • Tetrad

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Neuroscience


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