Science Report: Get to know HU-210



Photo 1 - Packages are about 2x3 inches.
Photo 1 - Packages are about 2x3 inches.

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) - Chicago Laboratory (Illinois) recently received five small, resealable, bright foil packets containing dull olive-colored plant material(s), labelled as “Spice Gold,” “Spice Silver,” “Spice Diamond,” “Genie,” and “Yucatan Fire” incense (see Photo 1, right, and Photos 2 - 3, next page), all reputedly laced with various synthetic cannabinoids or synthetic cannabinoid mimicking compounds, notably “HU-210” [(6aR,10aR)-9-(hydroxymethyl)-6,6-dimethyl-3-(2-methyloctan-2-yl)-6a,7,10,10a-tetrahydrobenzo[c]chromen-1-ol)].

The exhibits were selected from a shipment containing approximately 1,500 such packets that were detained by a CBP agricultural specialist at an express parcel service hub in Wilmington, Ohio. The items were not smuggled but were rather part of a formal entry. Standard marijuana analyses (microscopy) of the materials were negative. Analysis of extracts by GC/MS in the scan mode with split injection indicated only the presence of a large amount of vitamin E and other, smaller amounts of various natural products.

However, when the extracts were derivatized with N,O-bis(trimethylsilyl)acetamide and injected splitless with selected ion monitoring, HU-210 was found in very small but verifiable amounts in every packet (not quantitated). The results were confirmed against a standard. These were the first such submissions to the laboratory.

Photo 2
Photo 3

Photo 1 - Packages are about 2x3 inches.
Photo 1 - Packages are about 2x3 inches.

[Additional Laboratory and Editor’s Notes: In addition to the above-named products, there are at least two other such herbal products: “Skunk,” and “Sence.” These products are currently being encountered nationwide. They, and the synthetic cannabinoids and cannabinoid mimic compounds they contain, are also the subjects of widespread discussion and speculation on the Internet.

Based on anecdotal reports, HU-210 is hundreds of times more potent than THC; thus, the trace amounts detected in the above case are physiologically active, and these materials may be viewed as “stealth marijuana.”

The reference standard of HU-210 used in this case was purchased from Cayman Chemical of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The ions selected for the analysis were m/z 446 (100%), 530 (molecular ion), 447, 474, and 356. Note that HU-210 is named in several different ways; for example: (6aR,10aR)-3-(1,1'-dimethylheptyl)-6a,7,10,10a-tetrahydro-1-hydroxy-6,6-dimethyl-6H-dibenzo[b,d]pyran-9-methanol.

HU-210 is controlled (Schedule I) in the U.S. (See: http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drugs_concern/spice/spice_hu210.htm), and products containing it and similar cannabinoids are controlled within the U.S. and in a number of other countries, including Austria, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. In addition to HU-210, there are at least half a dozen other compounds with similar structures, plus several unrelated compounds that have cannabinoid mimicking effects (notably JWH- 018 (1-pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole)), that are being used to adulterate the plant materials in “Spice” and similar products.

An article presenting mass spectral data and background information on these compounds was recently published on line (not yet published in hard copy); see: Auwarter V, Dresen S, Weinmann W, Muller M, Putz M, Ferreiros N. “Spice” and other herbal blends: Harmless incense or cannabinoid designer drugs? Journal of Mass Spectrometry 2009.]

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