The e-psychonauts’ ‘Spiced’ World; assessment of the synthetic cannabinoids’ information available online

Caroline Zangani, Fabrizio Schifano, Flavia Napoletano, Davide Arillotta, Liam Gilgar, Amira Guirguis, John Martin Corkery, Orsola Gambini, Alessandro Vento

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
194 Downloads (Pure)


Background: A wide range of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) is regularly searched and discussed online by web-based drug enthusiasts (i.e. the e-psychonauts). Among NPS, the range of synthetic cannabinoids (SC; ‘Spice’) currently represents a challenge for governments and clinicians. Methods: Using a web crawler (i.e. the NPS.Finder®), the present study aimed at assessing psychonauts’ fora/platforms to better understand the online mentions of SC. Results: The open-web crawling/navigating software identified here some 1,103 synthetic cannabinoids. Of these, 863 molecules were not listed in either the international or the European NPS databases. Conclusion: A web crawling approach helped here in identifying a large range of unknown SC likely to possess a misuse potential. Most of these novel/emerging molecules are still relatively unknown. This is a reason for concern; each of these analogues potentially presents different toxicodynamic profiles and there is a lack of docking, preclinical, and clinical observations. Strengthening multidisciplinary collaboration between clinicians and bioinformatics may prove useful in better assessing SC-associated public health risks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)966-1051
Number of pages86
JournalCurrent Neuropharmacology
Issue number10
Early online date2 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Mar 2020


  • psychonauts
  • NPS
  • new psychoactive substances
  • synthetic cannabinoids
  • web crawling
  • Web crawling
  • Synthetic cannabinoids
  • New psychoactive substances
  • Psychonauts


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