Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists profile in infused papers seized in Brazilian prisons

Taís B. Rodrigues, Mônica P. Souza, Lilian de Melo Barbosa, Júlio de Carvalho Ponce, Luiz F. Neves Júnior, Maurício Yonamine, Jose Luiz Costa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs) are a class of varied compounds that mimic the effects of natural cannabinoids found in cannabis. Because they have a wide range of diverse structures, they vary widely in their potency. The abuse of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in prisons was reported in many European countries and in the USA. In the present study, we have described the identification of SCRAs in 56 infused paper sheet samples, seized mainly in Brazilian prisons between 2016 and 2020.

METHODS: The materials were seized by local or federal law enforcement and analyzed by São Paulo State Police or Brazilian Federal Police using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, attenuated total reflection-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, liquid chromatography-high-resolution mass spectrometry or nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry.

RESULTS: Most of these samples (87.5%) were seized in 2019-2020; seven different SCRAs were identified in samples, and the most frequently identified substances were MDMB-4en-PINACA (23.6%) and 5F-MDMB-PICA (36.4%), the newest SCRAs emerging recently.

CONCLUSIONS: As observed in Europe and the USA, Brazil also shows the prevalence of indazole-3-carboxamides and indole-3-carboxamides among SCRAs seizures in the prison system. This phenomenon is spreading all over the world at this moment. These data on the prevalence could help to alert judicial authorities to shutting down the introduction of NPS, including SCRAs, into prisons to ensure safety and security for avoiding health risks of prisoners and staff, leading to positive effects in this population. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of SCRAs smuggling into prisons in Latin America.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-124
Number of pages6
JournalForensic Toxicology
Issue number1
Early online date29 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

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