How Spice and Black Mamba were created by accident

The synthetic drug, which is also linked to Black Mamba, was stumbled upon when the scientist was researching the impact of cannabis.

In the mid-1990s, John Huffman made Spice possible.

The synthetic drug, which is devastating British cities, was stumbled upon when the scientist was researching the impact of cannabis on the human brain. In Birmingham, it is better known as Black Mamba.

Part of his work involved creating synthetic compounds which acted in a similar way to the drug on receptors inside our bodies, as Mirror Online reports.

Huffman synthesized one compound called JWH-018 in 1993 and published the formula in a series of papers, journals and a book called “The Cannabinoid Receptors.”

Now his initials JWH are famous among the synthetic drug community as the jumping off point for the trade in super-strength synthetic cannabis.

Like ecstasy or LSD, synthetic cannabinoids mark the latest example of a substance hatched in medical research that metamorphosed into a rampant street drug.

John Huffman never intended for his research to be abused

 He told the Sunday Times : ” I was experimenting for good.

“Could I have known?


“Marijuana has been around for hundreds of years, its effects are well known and you cannot kill yourself with it.

“You can kill yourself with the synthetics.”

Huffman recalled to the Washington Post the first time he heard about the drugs.

A German blogger, had sent him a news article describing a new drug one man had smoked – it was called Spice.

He said: “I thought it was sort of hilarious at the time.

“Then I started hearing about some of the bad results, and I thought, ‘Hmm, I guess someone opened Pandora’s box.’ ”

Huffman’s compounds laid some of the first groundwork for a scourge of cheaply made, mass-produced synthetic drugs although the most recent examples are not copies of his work but a development of it.

Now 84, father-of-four Huffman lives in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, in America.

New 'frozen spice' drug hits streets of Birmingham
New ‘frozen spice’ drug hits streets of Birmingham (Image: Birmingham Mail)

He leads a quiet life and does not welcome the notoriety his discoveries led to.

His phone numbers are listed under his wife’s name and strangers who call his laboratories at Clemson University are told he doesn’t return messages.

“I don’t want pest calls,” he said.

“I get a number of them that are nut calls.

“You know, ‘Why did you make the compound that murdered my son?’ and this sort of stuff.

“I’ve had e-mails like that.

“There’s a reason I’m so difficult to reach.”

Asked what the solution to the crisis could be he said: “What they should do now is the synthetic compounds should be made vigorously illegal and marijuana should be legalised.”

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