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New Designer Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids and Synthetic Cathinones): Review of Literature

[ Vol. 20 , Issue. 25 ]


Olivier Cottencin, Benjamin Rolland and Laurent Karila   Pages 4106 - 4111 ( 6 )


New designer drugs (synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones) are new “legal highs” that are sold online for recreational public or private use.

Synthetic cannabinoids are psychoactive herbal and chemical products that mimic the effects of cannabis when used. These drugs are available on the Internet or in head shops as incense or air fresheners to circumvent the law.

Cathinone is a naturally occurring beta-ketone amphetamine analog found in the leaves of the Catha edulis plant. Synthetic cathinones are phenylalkylamine derivatives that may possess amphetamine-like properties. These drugs are sold online as bath salts.

Designer drugs are often labeled as “not for human consumption” to circumvent drug abuse legislation. The absence of legal risks, the ease of obtaining these drugs, the moderate cost, and the availability via the Internet are the main features that attract users, but the number of intoxicated people presenting with emergencies is increasing.

There is evidence that negative health and social consequences may affect recreational and chronic users. The addictive potential of designer drugs is not negligible.


Synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones, legal highs, recreative drugs.


, , Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, University Hospital of Lille, Department of Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, CHU Lille F-59037 Lille Cedex France.

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