Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Suzanne Bell

Committee Co-Chair

Patrick Callery

Committee Member

Harry Finklea

Committee Member

Lisa Holland

Committee Member

Michelle Richards-Babb


Since the introduction of herbal incense products into the illicit drug market, one of the most concerning factors has been the uncertainty regarding their health effects. Side effects such as anxiety/agitation, increased heartbeat, hallucinations, and suicidal tendencies are commonly reported with the use of products containing synthetic cannabinoid. However, a largely unknown toxicity and pharmacology is still associated with synthetic cannabinoids and long-term health effects have yet to be discussed.;Prior scientific studies have not focused on the big-picture in terms of the pyrolysis of traditional drugs of abuse that are smoked or the relatively new synthetic cannabinoids. Numerous agencies and statistics have reported the number of health-related incidents regarding the use of synthetic cannabinoids, but there has yet to be peer-reviewed reports seeking to understand what caused these health effects. Therefore, the purpose of this research was to investigate the pyrolytic fate of JWH-018, JWH-030, JWH-081, and UR-144 and the smaller components which comprise these synthetic cannabinoids.;Studying a number of the most common components that comprise a large number of the synthetic cannabinoids allows for a broad-ranging, cost-effective dissemination of results. A comprehensive approach was taken for identifying the pyrolytic products observed with a series of indole and naphthalene containing compounds. In doing so, a baseline of pyrolytic products that can form was established and it was found that a number of polyaromatic hydrocarbons, heterocyclic amines, and other hazardous or potentially hazardous compounds were generated.;Analysis of the synthetic cannabinoids in this study showed that known carcinogenic compounds and potentially harmful pyrolytic products, such as carbazole, naphthalene, and benz[a]anthracene, are generated during smoking. The synthetic cannabinoids JWH-071 and JWH-018 were also, respectively, identified as pyrolytic products of JWH-018 and JWH-081. Furthermore, a number of compounds that were not identified have been reported which may, like the additionally generated synthetic cannabinoids, also retain activity at the cannabinoid receptors.