Synthetic cannabis is a herbal and chemical product which mimics the effects of cannabis. It is best known by the brand names K2 and Spice. When synthetic cannabis products first went on sale it was thought that they achieved an effect through a mixture of legal herbs. Laboratory analysis in 2008 showed this was not the case and that they in fact contained synthetic cannabinoids which act on the body in a similar way to cannabinoids naturally found in cannabis, such as THC. Synthetic cannabinoids, including cannabicyclohexanol, JWH-018, JWH-073, and HU-210, are used in an attempt to avoid the laws which make cannabis illegal, making synthetic cannabis a designer drug. It has been sold under various brand names, online, in head shops and at some gas stations. It is marketed as an incense or “herbal smoking blend”, but the products are usually smoked by users. Although synthetic cannabis does not produce positive results in drug tests for cannabis, it is possible to detect its metabolites in human urine. The synthetic cannabinoids contained in synthetic cannabis products have been made illegal in many European countries, but remain legal under federal law in the USA and Canada. Several US states have made it illegal under state law.Some forms of synthetic cannabis (HU-210) are currently scheduled in the USA under federal law while others are not (JWH-073). The Drug Enforcement Agency considers it to be a “drug of concern”. Several states have passed acts making it illegal under state law however, including Kansas in March 2010, Georgia and Alabama in May 2010, Tennessee and Missouri in July 2010, Louisiana in August 2010, and Mississippi in September 2010. An emergency order was passed in Arkansas in July 2010, banning the sale of synthetic cannabis. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, several other states are also considering legislation, including Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Indiana, and Ohio. Illinois passed a law on July 27, 2010 banning all synthetic cannabinoids that goes into effect January 1, 2011.
Following cases in Okinawa and Japan involving the use of synthetic cannabis by Navy Army and Marine personnel resulted in the official banning of it, a punitive general order issued on January 4, 2010 by the Commander Marine Corps Forces, Pacific prohibits the actual or attempted possession, use, sale, distribution or manufacture of synthetic cannabis as well as any derivative, analogue or variant of it. On June 8, 2010, the U.S. Air Force issued a memorandum that banned the possession and use of Spice, or any other mood altering substance, among its service members.