Synthetic cannabinoids, a group of psychotropic herbal products more commonly known as Spice or K2, are the latest challenge to narcotics enforcement personnel. Although these substances may be labeled “not for human consumption,” they are marketed to teenagers as marijuana substitutes and are available at a variety of retail outlets.
The chemically engineered compounds used to make Spice are often shipped as bulk powder across borders and then sprayed on plant-based material to be smoked. These compounds produce effects similar to those caused by marijuana but they can induce more powerful—and unpredictable—results including extreme anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and even heart attack.
Due to its high chemical specificity, Raman spectroscopy is well suited to identify these new synthetic drugs. The Thermo Scientific™ TruNarc™ handheld analyzer identifies both bulk and sprayed forms of synthetic cannabinoids, as well as numerous other illegal drugs, in a single test. The TruNarc library is updated regularly to address new emerging threats. This makes it an ideal screening tool whether on the street, in a police station, at a customs checkpoint, or in a forensic laboratory.