Is Spice legal?

Some Spice ingredients are legal in the U.S. Others are illegal. More on the legal status of Spice here.

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More than 140 different Spice products have been identified to date.

Some are legal.

Some are not.

Here, we review the current legal environment for Spice and its ingredients. We invite your feedback at the end. Please send us questions about Spice, its use, side effects or legal status here. We will respond to all legitimate questions about Spice with a personal and prompt message.

What’s in Spice?

What’s in Spice drug? The psychoactive chemicals in Spice are known as synthetic cannabinoids.   Synthetic cannabinoids stimulate the same brain receptors as marijuana and can produces a similar high. Sometimes, Spice mixtures contain a few cannabinoids. Other times, a Spice package may contain dozens. Some of the commonly known compounds used in Spice blends include:

  • CP- 47,497
  • HU-210
  • HU-211
  • JWH-018
  • JWH-073

How do people make Spice?

Spice makers usually buy synthetic cannabinoid compounds from labs in Asia as cheap raw materials, dissolve the compounds in a solvent, spray the solution onto herbal mixtures, and then evaporate the solvent before packaging the products. The ingredients used to make Spice can vary, and the results could have dangerous effects on your body and brain. Some mixtures even contain harmful metal residues.

How does Spice work in the brain?

Spice ingredients act as either CB1 or CB2 agonists or partial agonists and produce similar effects as THC. Can legal bud get you high?  Yes.

Is Spice legal?

Spice ingredients are banned in many European countries. And some ingredients are now federally banned in the U.S. In March 2011, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) passed an emergency scheduling authority to control five chemicals frequently found in Spice. In the U.S. it is now illegal to possess or sell products that contain:

  1. cannabicyclohexanol
  2. CP-47,497
  3. JWH-018
  4. JWH-073
  5. JWH-200

These synthetic cannabinoids are designated as Schedule I substances, the most restrictive category under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I substances have a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use for treatment in the United States and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision. As a result of this order, the full effect of the Controlled Substances Act and its implementing regulations of Schedule I substances will be imposed on the manufacture, distribution, possession, importation, and exportation of these synthetic cannabinoids.

The temporary scheduling action will remain in effect for at least one year (with a 6 month extension possible) while the DEA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) further study whether these chemicals should be permanently controlled.

Furthermore, many states have either passed bills or are in the process of passing legislation that controls or prohibits Spice and/or synthetic cannabinoids. And the use of Spice and related products is prohibited throughout the U.S. military services.

Does Spice show up on drug tests?

No and yes. Spice does not show up on drug screens for THC, the psychoactive compound of marijuana. However, there is a new generation of urine and blood tests which accurately identify Spice compounds. These tests are commercially available and aim to be cheaper and more extensively used in the near future.

Should Spice be illegal?

Spice has the ability to induce strong cannabis-like psychoactive effects. But Spice has become popular because it is readily available on the Internet, still legal in many countries, marketed as natural safe substances, and undetectable by conventional drug screening tests. What will it take to make all Spice ingredients illegal? And can legality be enforced when the ingredients in Spice can be chemically changed?

Your input, comments and opinion are welcomed.

Reference sources: NIDA Info Facts on Spice
U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control – “The Dangers of Synthetic Cannabinoids and Stimulants”
EU report: Understanding the Spice phenomenon
DEA News Release: Chemicals Used in “Spice” and “K2” Type Products Now Under Federal Control and Regulation
Utah State legislation review of Spice
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. legalize marijuana and people would quit trying these other dangerous chems. But then again people still smoke pot, at least they do not have to worry about drug test.

  2. Just what the streets of our Country needs now another drug to mess up our kids . It should be illegal and these smoke shops closed . if it isn’t LAW it should be a LAW to make it illegal . To many of our kids have gotten hook thinking it was fine to try these drugs only to find itis not so easy to get off of them.
    I think it is so sad that kids , and young adults waste so many years fighting to get off these drugs and taking away precious years of there lives when they could do so much more for them selves to have a wonderful and productive happy life. We never get a second chance at life , we only go through just once that’s all . When we get in our later years we realize this.
    Please don’t tell me your entitled to make your own mistakes , we already know that . But why would anyone want to knowingly want to throw the best years of your life away on a drug that will just rack your body and age you beyond your years ? It’s just does not make sence . I hope someone is helped by what I am saying here.Life is so beautiful ! If your life is is not and you are being mistreated in any way by your parent a fried or a relative or stranger GO TO THE POLICE and get help , do not turn to Drugs or the streets . Get helped for your self
    You can call a hot line too. Please take this advice . I know so many people who just took the abuse and are forever messed up . There are GOOD people who do care and will help you.
    I’ve seen the results of the drugs on people’s faces , believe me it is not a pretty sight . I am a concerned person who does care and want the best for our young population,
    thanks for letting me share my view on the Drug problem in our country . Beverly Meek

  3. I have just read about what happen to the smoke shop in Gallup N.M which is called Fu King Smoke Shop. Why is it that the owners are being charged with a felony charge for selling a product until they got complaints of the product a product that had a warning label not for human consumption. Tobacco and alcoholic companies have warning labels as well but make great revenue for the community so they never get taken off the shelf because of this reason the people on the board make a great and when I say great I mean a great profit. This company is in trouble because of the effects of the product and again their was a label stating it was not for human consumption so does spray paint and cologne but people abuse it so why are these owners getting charged for this. In the gallup independent they stated they had an undercover know they were selling it so why did they do anything then why now I understand they had several reports of it so why shut it down now. I understand many had lost their kids to the product but so did the program of MADD they lost their loved ones but it is still on the shelf they gave there stories but many cities still sell because they make a profit off of tax and that is why I think they took spice off the shelf and charging the owners why don’t the tobacco and alcohol companies get charge WHY?? because they are American or what do not get me wrong I love my country but the country I have served gave people the opportunity to be citizens should we not blame them is it not the American dream. They put a warning labels for this type of situation so good lawyers may get them off of such prosecution and not only that the cities get paid is that not hippyocrice they get to keep it on shelf and get paid millions even billions and not get charged for all the drunk driving that has happen I mean you go to a bar an order a drink and drive off one may still get charged for a DWI or even hurt another human being so how come that does not get it off the shelf parents always complain about it just like MADD but it is still served. I have to say why is the cell phone not taken off the shelf people text and drive and they are mainly teenagers same thing with spice and the cell companies still get to sell there phones but they do not have to get charged felony but get a bonus. Even if your kids drink it is a depressant maybe your kids have always felt that certain way I am not to judge but a lot of parents do not understand their kids because they are self involved of their own problems and when something bad happens they just want to blame someone and not themselves and I know if I would to speak out a lot would, well they would hate me immeditly feel angry why because that is an human emotion even in this time of age they are quick to blame then to blame themselves the United States citizens are so fast to point a finger then to point one to themselves. i am sorry for my misspelling and grammer. Joan of Arc spoke out and she was burned for her believes so people may have advanced in technology but as an emotion they are still judgemental. i am sorry for the misspelling.

  4. It should be illegal! This is extremely dangerous. I have a 20 year old son who was smoking this and it made him very confused . He would be his sweet, kind, mellow self one minute and then the next very angry with violent unprovoked outbursts the next. My son was found yesterday night running the streets of Pomona, Ca. naked (this made no sense because he is extremely modest) and was arrested to only be turned around by Law Enforcement and turned loose into the streets without being evaluated and into the unsuspecting public. He tried to break into a person’s home without a shirt within a couple hours after being released and was jumped by the neighborhood and tied up and the police said he was banging his head into the asphalt. At this time he is restrained at the hospital with one on one watch…It is legal (in California)…they sell it in the smoke shops and it is killing our youth…it should be ILLEGAL!! I am for getting a petition or something to stop the sale of this mess that is legally destroying people’s minds.

  5. my son got smoking spice at school they arrested and now he have court he is 16 years old … MY QUESTION IS ..iS SPICE LEGAL OR CAN THEY PRESENT CHARGERS AGAINS HIM

I am ready to call
i Who Answers?