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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie, Carmen Gonzalez, Srinivasan Sundara Rajan

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Advisory - Health Canada warns of risks related to "synthetic marihuana" products

OTTAWA, Feb. 27, 2013 /CNW/ -

The issue:

Health Canada is warning consumers about the risks associated with "synthetic marihuana" products sold in Canada, which are typically products containing plant material that has been sprayed or coated with synthetic cannabinoids. These products are often marketed as "smokeable herbal incense", "exotic herbal incense", "legal highs" or as alternatives to marihuana, and are believed to be smoked by consumers for their cannabis-like effects, despite the fact that they are often labelled as "not for human consumption".

These products may be available for sale at some convenience stores, specialty tobacco stores and head shops. Health Canada does not recommend consuming any of these products as they are rarely labelled with an accurate ingredient list and consuming them may lead to adverse health effects. Effects that have been reported following the use of these products include restlessness, agitation, dizziness, anxiety/panic attacks, memory loss, acute psychosis, seizures, rapid or irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, chest pain, changes in blood sugar and electrolyte levels, and nausea/vomiting.

Products containing ingredients that are similar synthetic preparations of cannabis are regulated under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). All activities associated with them, (e.g., production, distribution, import, export, etc.) are illegal in Canada. Law enforcement is authorized to seize these products at points of entry and/or remove them from retail outlets.

Products affected:
Examples of products that should be avoided include: "IZMS", "Herbal Highs", "Spice", "K2",  "Yucatan Fire", "Earth Impact", "London Underground" .

Consumers should note that this is not a definitive list as new "synthetic marihuana" products appear on the market on a regular basis.

Who is affected:

Any person that possesses, produces, sells, imports and/or exports a "synthetic marihuana" product.

What consumers should do:


  • Do not purchase or consume products labelled as "synthetic marihuana", "smokeable herbal incense" or "legal high". Consuming these products may lead to adverse health effects and it is illegal if they contain ingredients that are similar synthetic preparations of cannabis, which are regulated under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).
  • Consumers who have these products in their possession should contact their legal counsel for advice on how to properly dispose of them.  

What Health Canada is doing:

Health Canada continues to work with its federal, provincial and municipal partners, including law enforcement, in collecting information about these "synthetic marihuana" products, and in making sure that retailers are aware that they cannot be legally sold in Canada.   Products containing controlled substances may be seized at points of entry into Canada and/or removed from retail outlets.

For more information:

Consumers and health professionals wanting more information about this advisory from Health Canada can contact the Public Enquiries Line at 613-957-2991, or toll free at 1-866-225-0709.

Media enquiries related to this Advisory should be directed to Health Canada Media Relations at 613-957-2983.

Stay connected with Health Canada and receive the latest advisories and product recalls using social media tools.

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SOURCE Health Canada

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