K3 Spice

Synthetic marijuana is a misnomer since this drug contains dozens of compounds, none of which include actual marijuana. Designer drugs, also known as synthetic drugs, are illegal chemical substances often sold online or in smoke shops. Designer drugs like K3 Spice (AB-PINACA) bind with cannabinoid receptors in the brain to mimic the side effects of marijuana (THC).

AB-PINACA was synthesized by Pfeizer in 2009 for analgesic use. The drug gained popularity in Japan by 2012, and emerged in other countries by 2013. In under a year, AB-PINACA became one of the most commonly used drugs in the U.S. Synthetic marijuana is 1.5 times more potent than regular cannabis and is responsible for a number of hospitalizations and deaths as a result.

K3 Drug Type

Synthetic cannabis products like K2 and K3 are classified as stimulants. These drugs have serious and usually severe side effects because their composition is largely an unknown combination of unstable and dangerous chemicals. Conversely, real marijuana is a mild hallucinogen-depressant which acts as a stimulant in some circumstances.

DEA Drug Class

Effective October 2017, the DEA placed AB-PINACA (K3) and its derivatives into the Schedule I list of Controlled Substances under the CSA. Schedule I drugs have no accepted medical use and a high likelihood of abuse.

Effects of K3 on the Brain

Synthetic cannabinoids affect the brain’s cannabinoid receptors with more potency than THC. While THC is only a partial agonist, synthetic cannabinoids like AB-PINACA (K3) are full agonists.

Limited information is published on the cerebral effects of K3 Spice, although it is commonly known side effects of this drug are unpredictable and vary across users:

  • Elevated mood
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Altered awareness
  • Confusion
  • Detached from reality
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Relaxation

Side Effects of K3

Side effects of K2 and K3 Spice use are described by most users as short-lived and variable, albeit similar to the side effects of using cannabis products:

  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Bright but blurry vision
  • Tingling tongue
  • Hangover-like sensation
  • Uncomfortable internal disquiet
  • Severe headaches
  • Strong nausea/vomiting
  • Tremors or shakes
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia9
  • Confusion

Not enough studies are finalized about the long-term consequences of K3 use besides incidental reports from poison centers. Uncensored use of the drug is known to be life-threatening:

  • Addiction
  • Confusion
  • Forgetfulness
  • Myocardial ischemia
  • Paralysis
  • Renal damage
  • Seizures

Testing for AB-PINACA (K3)

The ease of access to K3 Spice AB-PINACA raises much concern in the workplace and beyond. Instant K2/K3 drug tests are available for both private and professional use as an effective detection tool for K3 Spice.

Screening Cut-off and Detection Time for AB-PINACA

 Cut-off LevelApproximate Detection Time
Urine test25 ng/ml2-10 days