Among the 60 or so various cannabinoids which are present in cannabis sativa indica, terpenophenols are mainly found, including delta-9-trans tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) which is the major psychoactive ingredient.
Over the last decade, due to the emergence of e-commerce and the continuous investigations by pharmaceutical groups to identify new active molecules, synthetic cannabinoids have been proposed. These compounds, under the generic name “spices” have chemical structures very different from that of Δ9-THC, but share the same CB1 and CB2 receptors.
They are mimics of Δ9-THC with much powerful pharmacological effects, including thus more deterrent side-effects, and enhanced windows of detection. All these drugs are controlled. This means that they have to be tested in human biological specimens to document abuse.
The aim of this mini-review is to present what has been described in the scientific literature according to the available specimens (blood, urine, saliva, sweat, hair and exhaled breath), focussing on the current advantages and limitations of each test.