Hijacking of basic research: The case of synthetic cannabinoids
Gathering and communicating knowledge are important aspects of the scientific endeavor. Yet presentation of data in public forums such as scientific meetings and publications makes it available not only to scientists, but also to others who may have different ideas about how to use research findings. A recent example of this type of hijacking is the introduction of synthetic cannabinoids that are sprayed on herbal products and subsequently smoked for their marijuana-like intoxicating properties. Originally developed for the legitimate research purpose of furthering understanding of the cannabinoid system, these synthetic cannabinoids are being abused worldwide, creating issues for regulatory and law enforcement agencies that are struggling to keep up with the growing number of compounds of various structural motifs. Besides describing the history of this emerging public health problem, this Occasional Paper highlights opportunities for research related to health issues caused by the new synthetic cannabinoids.