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Alarm Raised Over 'Spice' in Vape Liquids and Counterfeit Medication in the UK

Public Health Wales has raised concerns about the presence of synthetic cannabinoids, or 'Spice', in illegal vape liquids and counterfeit prescription drugs, highlighting the risk of severe health problems and life-threatening overdose.

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Wojciech Zylm
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Alarm Raised Over 'Spice' in Vape Liquids and Counterfeit Medication in the UK

Alarm Raised Over 'Spice' in Vape Liquids and Counterfeit Medication in the UK

Public Health Wales, via the Welsh Emerging Drugs and Identification of Novel Substances service (WEDINOS), has voiced concerns over the widespread presence of synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs), commonly known as 'Spice', in unlawful vape liquids. An analysis of 196 samples in 2023 revealed that 75 contained one or more SCRAs—substances that users mistakenly purchased assuming they were cannabis, CBD, or THC e-liquids.

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The Alarming Health Risks of Synthetic Cannabinoids

SCRAs are synthetic cannabinoids that pose severe health threats, including respiratory difficulties and psychotic episodes. These substances, often misrepresented within the illegal drug market, have been linked to numerous health crises across the globe. A primary concern is the relative ease with which these dangerous substances can be procured, often with buyers unaware of the grave risks involved.

Rising Concern Over Counterfeit Prescription Drugs

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Similar trepidation surrounds the growing issue of counterfeit prescription drugs, particularly with the detection of Nitazenes, a group of synthetic opioids, within substances assumed to be reliable medications such as Diazepam and Oxycodone. These potent opioids carry a high risk of life-threatening overdose, further exacerbating the public health crisis.

WEDINOS: A Decade of Drug Identification and Awareness

WEDINOS, backed by the Welsh Government, has been in operation for a decade, during which it has tested over 33,000 samples and identified a staggering 641 different substances. The organization has consistently emphasized the dangers of high potency drugs, particularly those misrepresented within the market, and the associated risk of overdose. It strongly advises individuals to source prescription drugs exclusively from a licensed GP.

Public Health Wales recognizes the integral role WEDINOS has played over the past decade in harm reduction efforts across Wales and the UK, demonstrating the organization's vital contribution to public health and safety.

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