MRO Magazine

NMS Labs Reports Updated Synthetic Cannabinoids Panel Leads to Higher Positivity Rates

June 11, 2015
By Business Wire News


Data compiled from NMS Labs’ Center for Innovation is shedding new light on the rapid turnover in the market for a dangerous new category of recreational drugs. A recent update to the company’s synthetic cannabinoid test panel showed a seven-fold increase in the positivity rate for synthetic cannabinoids in criminal cases and death investigations. Chief of Forensic Toxicology at NMS Labs, Dr. Barry Logan, has worked vigorously with the designer drug strategy team at NMS Labs to bring attention to this rapidly changing environment.

“By monitoring drug user web sites, law enforcement data, reports to emergency rooms, international scientific research studies, and many other sources, we have found that the market completely changes about every nine to twelve months,” Dr. Logan states as he describes the extensive efforts that go into the company’s process for regularly updating its testing to address the changes in the drug market and to keep up with what is being sold in the streets.

Last year, NMS Labs made a commitment to update the scope of their synthetic cannabinoids test every nine months. As a result, they have seen a large increase in positivity rates following their most recent update. Prior to the update about 5% of synthetic cannabinoid cases came back positive, however the positive cases increased to 35% after the most recent update in January.

The synthetic cannabinoid drug class, sometimes known as fake weed and sold under brand names such as “K2” and “Spice”, has been linked to an alarming increase in reports of illness, hospitalizations and even death in the United States. In April of this year, there were more than 160 reported cases of patients from across New York entering the emergency room after smoking synthetic marijuana products. In the same month, ten deaths in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley were linked to synthetic marijuana and also in the same month poison control centers nationwide reported 1,500 cases of illnesses. Use of these drugs have also been linked to deaths in California, Virginia, Nebraska, Colorado and several other states from their direct toxic effects. There are also many other cases of injuries and death caused by impaired motorists that have been reported or are under investigation.

The chemicals contained in the synthetic cannabinoid products are manufactured by labs in China and packaged and distributed in the United States. Most of the substances used are considered illegal under federal law, but the drugs designers are constantly tweaking their chemical make up to move them into a legal grey area where it is difficult for authorities to control and prosecute their sale and use.

A relatively new compound called ADB-CHMINACA, is thought to be linked to the recent spike in synthetic marijuana hospitalizations and poisonings. This compound has yet to be banned in many states or the federal government, so control over its shipment and distribution is limited. It is the latest designer drug to be added to NMS Labs test offering.

About NMS Labs:

NMS Labs is an international forensic and clinical reference laboratory that is unsurpassed in its scope of toxicology tests, accuracy of results, scientific expertise, and innovation. Dedicated to staying ahead of the curve for this new class of drugs, The NMS Labs Designer Drug Strategy Team was created in 2011. This team has consistently tracked the changing synthetic cannabinoid market, identifying novel and emerging drugs and anticipating the most popular new substances. NMS Labs is passionate about promoting public health and safety. For more information on NMS Labs, please visit

NMS Labs
Christina Hicks, Marketing, 215 366-1778