Synthetic Cannabinoids: An Overview

Presented By LAUREN PACE, DO

Provided by RiverMend Health Institute

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Release date: March 30, 2017

Valid through: March 30, 2020

Topic: Synthetic Cannabinoid

Media: Recorded/On demand

Estimated Time to Complete Activity: 60 minutes

Target Audience

This CE activity is intended for physicians, psychiatrists, physician assistants, psychologists, and allied mental health advocates.

Program Overview

Synthetic Cannabinoids (SCs) have become widely abused as recreational drugs, and are now known to carry a risk of severe mental and physical health effects. SCs mimic the psychoactive effects of cannabis and have been recognized as drugs of abuse since 2008. However, SCs differ structurally from cannabis, which may explain the emergence of severe psychiatric symptoms following SC ingestion. This presentation will examine catatonia occurring in the context of SC use in two patients with no prior history of psychosis. Pharmacological management in the context of SC induced catatonia will also be discussed, as well as long term sequelae of heavy synthetic cannabinoid use.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this activity, participants should be better able to: 

  1. Discuss the origin and development of synthetic cannabinoids, the prevalence of use, and the legal restrictions now in place.
  2. Explain the mechanism of action of synthetic cannabinoids and how this illicit substance differs from marijuana.
  3. Demonstrate the effects of heavy synthetic cannabinoid use through a case presentation, and compare pharmacological treatments available for those who have suffered unintended repercussions after using this substance.

Continuing Education

NBCC, National Board of Certified Counselors

RiverMend Health is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP™) and may offer NBCC approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements. The ACEP solely is responsible for all aspects of the program. Provider #6573.

NBCC CE credit Awarded: 1.0



Lauren Pace, DO, is an Addiction Psychiatry fellow at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She currently works with people struggling with addiction at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, as well as in outpatient medication management and psychotherapy clinics at UIC. Dr. Pace is a board-certified psychiatrist and plans to continue working in Chicago in the field of addiction psychiatry following completion of her fellowship program in July 2017.

Disclosures of Conflicts of Interest

  • No financial relationships relevant to this field of study.

Instructions for Participation and Credit

There are no fees for participating and receiving credit for this activity. During the accredited period, participants must read the learning objectives and faculty disclosures; study the educational activity; and complete the post-test and the evaluation form. If you pass the post-test and complete the evaluation, your certificate will be available immediately for download in PDF format.

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Participants have an implied responsibility to use the newly acquired information to enhance patient outcomes and their own professional development. The information presented in this activity is not meant to serve as a guideline for patient management. Any procedures, medications, or other courses of diagnosis or treatment discussed or suggested in this activity should not be used by clinicians without evaluation of their patient’s conditions and possible contraindications and/or dangers in use, review of any applicable manufacturer’s product information, and comparison with recommendations of other authorities.