Synthetic cannabinoids: getting to grips with a rising problem


21 September

Thackray Medical Museum, Leeds



September 21, 2017 - 10:00 am


September 21, 2017 - 3:45 pm


Thackray Medical Museum, 141 Beckett Street, Leeds, LS9 7LN   View map

Synthetic Cannabinoids (“SCs”) are racing up the list of problem substances. The best known is Spice – cheap, highly addictive, and widespread among homeless and prison populations. K2, Clockwork Orange, Black Mamba, Annihilation, and Amsterdam gold are other examples of the hundreds of SC ‘brands’.  These are laboratory-manufactured substances which combine chemicals to mimic the effect of cannabis. But SCs can be much more potent than cannabis with more acute and longer lasting effects.

Outside of prisons, SCs are cheap and readily available both from the internet and on the street. The chemical composition of SCs varies widely, and their effect on individuals is unpredictable. While some users experience milder effects like feeling giggly or becoming very talkative, others become paranoid, aggressive or zombie-like and barely able to function.

It is very easy to use too much because the substance is usually smoked in a mix with herbal leaves or tobacco and its strength is highly variable. Vaping liquid forms of SCs is becoming more common. SCs are particularly dangerous when taken with alcohol or other illegal drugs, but also with certain prescription drugs. Effects can be extremely severe, inducing psychotic episodes, and life threatening conditions such as kidney failure and heart attacks.

All SCs are now illegal substances. Prior to the Psychoactive Substances Act which came into force last year, some were ‘legal highs’ while others were already illegal.  While the new Act has simplified matters for the criminal justice system, it has driven the supply of SCs underground, and the price up. This means that SCs are now valuable tradable substances for criminal gangs, and users are now more likely to be offered other substances.

SCs are now posing major problems for all services from prisons, police and community safety to housing providers, substance misuse services, social services, youth and homeless services, and even schools.

Many professionals in mainstream services have little information about  SCs or their potential effects. This learning day will address important questions about the appearance, nature, effects and the market for SCs, and provide a forum for raising issues and asking questions.

About the learning day

The facilitator is Marc Blanchette, an expert in illegal substances prevention and harm reduction.

The sessions will include:

  • Understanding what Synthetic Cannabinoids (“SCs”) are, how they are obtained, and how much they cost
  • Myths, presumptions and fears around SCs
  • After the New Psychoactive Substances Act 2016
  • The brands: things to remember
  • Who is using SCs and why
  • The changing shape of cannabis and its alternatives
  • The chemistry and its effects – using and short terms effects & symptoms of acute toxicity
  • Understand risks, dangers and consequences of use
  • Harm reduction and evidence based interventions


 Registration and coffee: 9.30 – 10.00am

 Sessions will run from 10.00am to approximately 3.45pm

 Refreshments at breaks, and lunch, will be provided.

  • Police
  • Community safety
  • Prisons and probation services
  • Drug and alcohol services
  • Social services
  • Family services
  • Domestic and sexual abuse services
  • Services working with young people
  • Schools
  • Social housing
  • Health professionals
  • Outreach workers with the homeless, sex workers etc
  • Homeless and hostel services

Delegate fee:

 £130 + VAT = £156

Team of 3 (3rd person attends for half price) £325 + VAT = £390

Team of 5 (5th person attends for free) £520 + VAT = £624

ring 0115 916 3104 for details.

 Included in the delegate package:

  • Delegate pack
  • Lunch
  • Refreshments available throughout the day


Booking Terms and Conditions

Cancellations received up to and including 31st August 2017 will be refunded in full less an administration fee of 25%. Cancellations received after this date will be liable for payment in full.

Team bookings are non-cancellable but substitute delegates will always be accepted.

The full invoice amount will remain payable if you fail to attend the event, however, substitute delegates will be accepted up until, and including, the day of the event.



Confirmation of booking:

Your booking will be confirmed by email where possible (and by fax or post otherwise), and you will be provided with directions to the venue and details on nearby hotel accommodation. If you do not receive such acknowledgement, please contact Central Conference Consultants Ltd on 0115 916 3104.

This learning day is taking place in Leeds at:

Thackray Medical Museum
141 Beckett Street

T: 0113 205 6525

The Thackray Medical Museum is next to St James’s Hospital in Leeds, two miles from the city centre and easily reached by road and public transport.

Map and directions can also be found at this link:

Public Transport

It is approximately 10 minute taxi ride from Leeds Rail Station

Frequent bus services run from Leeds city centre. Numbers 16, 42, 49, 50, and 50A all stop nearby.

Travel by car

If travelling by road via the M621, follow the signs for York (A64) then follow the brown tourist signs.

From the north, take the A58 towards Leeds, and then follow the brown tourist signs.

There is an onsite Pay and Display car park for Museum visitors as well as conference delegates, which has room for 120 cars. The spaces are available on a first come first served basis. Please have the correct change as the machines do not give change and they do not take notes. Alternatively you can pay using your mobile phone & card (admin charge applies) details on the machines. Anyone attending a full day conference/event pays just £4. Please pay as normal at the machine and obtain an extension permit from the car park attendant to display in your vehicle.

There are four parking spaces for Blue Badge holders, which are also allocated on a first come first served basis and are free of charge.

Alternative parking is available at St James’s Hospital multi-storey car park on Beckett Street (5mins walk). In addition, there are also two pay and display car parks within a few minutes walk. However, these car parks have their own charges and hourly rates as they are not associated with the Museum.



Details of nearby accommodation will be provided with confirmation of booking.