The mystery behind the apprehensions of the selective cannabinoid receptor type-2 agonist BZO-HEXOXIZID (MDA-19) as a drug of abuse

Karen Rafaela Gonçalves de Araujo*, André Luis Fabris, Luiz F. Neves Júnior, Júlio de Carvalho Ponce, Alexandre Learth Soares, José Luiz Costa, Mauricio Yonamine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: MDA-19 or BZO-HEXOXIZID (N'-[(3Z)-1-(1-hexyl)-2-oxo-1,2-dihydro-3H-indol-3-ylidene]-benzohydrazide), in a more recent nomenclature, was first synthesized in 2008 as a selective type-2 cannabinoid receptor (CB2) agonist due to its potential to treat neuropathic pain. In Brazil, this substance was identified in a series of 53 apprehensions between September 2021 and February 2022. Nevertheless, what intrigues toxicologists is that BZO-HEXOXIZID does not exert significant type-1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1) agonism-which is responsible for the well-known psychoactivity of Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Thus, the objective of this work is to report the first apprehension and identification of BZO-HEXOXIZID in Brazil and to discuss pharmacologically the possible reasons why a CB2 agonist has been incorporated to the illicit market.

METHODS: Suspected seized samples were sent to the Laboratory of the Scientific Police of the State of Sao Paulo. After the screening, samples were confirmed for the presence of BZO-HEXOXIZID using chromatography gas-mass spectrometry, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance techniques.

RESULTS: Of the 53 samples analyzed, 25 contained only BZO-HEXOXIZID and 28 with mixtures, of which 11 with the CB1 agonist ADB-BUTINACA. Other substances were found in association such as cocaine and caffeine.

CONCLUSIONS: BZO-HEXOXIZID was detected in a series of seized materials for the first time in Brazil. Nevertheless, there are still unanswered questions regarding the use of this selective CB2 agonist as a drug of abuse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-150
Number of pages9
JournalForensic Toxicology
Issue number1
Early online date8 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes

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