Synthetic Cannabinoid Intoxication

A Case Series and Review

Carson R. Harris, MD; Ashley Brown, PHARMD


J Emerg Med. 2013;44(2):360-366. 

In This Article


In conclusion, complete pharmacological knowledge of synthetic cannabinoids is lacking, and further research is needed to gain a thorough understanding of the physical and psychological impact. Our cases presented over a 3-month period and illustrate increased use in our area. The clinical presentations are serious, and most cases required ambulance transfer to the ED, all adding to the drain of health care dollars. We recommend ED observation until the patient demonstrates clinical improvement and can be safely discharged in the presence of a responsible adult. Chemical dependency counseling or social service involvement should be considered before discharge.

It is hoped that legal action will curtail the use until further information can be obtained to elucidate the risks associated with use and abuse of these chemicals. Without such action or stringent prohibition of synthetic cannabinoids, we can expect the problem to increase, and expect to see an increase in morbidity and mortality in a young and vulnerable population associated with these chemicals.