Kronic has been referred to as a herbal high, however, recent revelations suggest that the high derived from these products is far more likely to be due to manufactured psychoactive substances which have been added to the herbal mix. These compounds include JHW018, a cannabinoid which is prohibited in Germany and JHW073, a cannabinoid the effects of which have not been studied in humans. And in the case of one product (Pineapple Express) which has now been withdrawn, the presence of phenazepam, a prescription medicine. (Phenazepam is used to treat anxiety and epilepsy and is used as a sedative).
Importers of these products have claimed that they do not know how the products were “contaminated” with phenazepam but point out that it is “only” present at 300 ppm. This raises two concerns:
1) How poor must the quality control processes be in the manufacture of these substances be to allow contamination by a prescription drug?
2) 300 ppm may sound like a small amount, however, this means that as little as 1.7 g of the contaminated product could contain 0.5 mg of phenazepam, the standard therapeutic dose when it is taken orally. *
* While it is unclear if phenazepam can be absorbed by inhalation, the misuse of a prescription drug by using in it a manner for which it was not designed seems inherently risky. Changing the method by which a drug is introduced into the body can increase/decrease a drugs potency and/or result in the production of unanticipated byproducts.
Cannabinoids JWH018 and 073 were originally synthesised to study how cannabinoids work in the body and also as potential drugs for use with AIDS, multiple sclerosis and chemotherapy treatments. These compounds proved unsuccessful as drugs and very little research has been done on their potential effects on humans, though there is some early evidence that they can cause psychosis in susceptible people.
The fact that these synthetic cannabinoids can be incorporated into these sorts of products highlights a major loophole in current drug legislation whereby manufacturers are not required to prove the safety of these products – rather the onus is on the government to show that they are harmful. A sharp contrast to pharmaceutical drugs which undergo a battery of tests to show they are safe to use (and even then occasionally problems still occur).
With a little searching of the internet I found a list of the purported herbal compounds on Kronic. This list played a lot on the fact that herbs such as passionvine, skullcap, peppermint and wild lettuce have beneficial properties, for example, skullcap is purported to contain antioxidants and be a natural treatment for arthritis. However, I suspect these properties, relate more to ingestion, rather than inhalation of their smoke. It seems highly unlikely that many antioxidants survive the burning process and it is well documented that smoke of any kind contains carcinogenic compounds.
Kronic may provide consumers with a high, but to claim that this high is either natural or has health benefits flies in the face of common sense. The risks of using such products also seem uncertain. As Professor John W. Huffman, the organic chemist who first synthesised these compounds has said (and from whom the initials of these compounds are derived i.e. JWH) about these products
“It’s like playing Russian roulette, you don’t know what it’s going to do to you. You’re a potential winner of a Darwin award.