Psychoactive drug or mystical incense? Overview of the online available information on Spice products

Fabrizio Schifano, Ornella Corazza, Paolo Deluca, Zoe Davey, Di Furia Lucia, Magi Farre, Liv Flesland, Miia Mannonen, Stefania Pagani, Teuvo Peltoniemi, Cinzia Pezzolesi, Norbert Scherbaum, Holger Siemann, Arvid Skutle, Marta Torrens, Peer van der Kreeft

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The aim of the study was to foster the collection and analysis of data from web pages related to information on the consumption, manufacture and sale of Spice products, a brand name for an herbal smoking blend, sold as legal substitute for cannabis. The Google search engine was used to carry out an 8-language qualitative assessment of information available on Spice products in a sample of about 200 web sites. The level of information elicited included both the users' comments on the effects of the products and the reasons behind their popularity. Users' suggestions on unusual drug combinations not found in the Medline were also identified. This is the first comprehensive and multilingual overview of the online available information on Spice products. The appeal of Spice to online customers was associated with its legal status, lack of detection in biological samples, ease of online access and cannabis-like effects. Spice product descriptions did not typically mention the presence of the powerful synthetic THC receptor agonists that seem to account for the psychoactive effects. Health professionals may need to be aware of the web being a new drug resource for both information and purchase of Spice products.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)137-144
    JournalInternational Journal of Culture and Mental Health
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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