26, 2013 - The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is
the first clinical lab in Canada to offer a test to detect the
presence of synthetic marijuana in the body. Health Canada recently
issued a warning about the dangers of herbal products combined with
cannabis-like chemical compounds, scientifically known as synthetic
cannabinoids, being sold in stores.
potent and resulting in more adverse effects than more natural marijuana,
synthetic cannabis has been linked to hallucinations, hypertension, chest
pain, acute psychosis, seizures, and even suicides, according to Health
Canada. Such newly created chemical compounds require new tests to
detect them. Until now, synthetic marijuana could not be detected in the body
of consumers without sending their urine away to a U.S. laboratory
for testing and waiting weeks for results.
CAMH Clinical Biochemist/Toxicologist Cristiana Stefan holds samples of synthetic cannabis. The mass spectrometer makes CAMH the first clinical lab that can detect synthetic cannabis in urine samples.
new capacity to test for synthetic marijuana will help clinicians improve
client care,” said Cara Vaccarino, CAMH Director of Medical Affairs. “The
test will also help researchers track use rates and inform public health
strategies in the community. As the only lab in Canada capable of
carrying out this test, CAMH will be a resource to other hospitals across the
country requiring the test.”
test will help physicians, nurses and clinicians link laboratory results to
unexplained clinical symptoms. Even in the absence of symptoms, positive lab
results can provide evidence of consumption and allow health care providers to
advise clients of the potential dangers of these products.
ability to carry out this new test at CAMH gives us the unique potential
of identifying an unlimited number of synthetic compounds from the JWH family
of chemicals found in these herbal products, which can help us stay ahead of
the manufacturers,” said Cara Vaccarino. “This will also enable
us to expedite test results. We no longer have to send samples to the United
States and wait several weeks for results.”
Synthetic marijuana is
often marketed as “smokeable herbal incense” or “exotic herbal incense,” but
these seemingly benign herbal products can have serious consequences for those
who use them.
combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health
promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and
addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto,
and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization
Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit www.camh.ca.
Torres; (416) 595-6015; firstname.lastname@example.org.