John W. Huffman

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John W. Huffman
Born 1932
Citizenship USA
Alma mater Northwestern University
Harvard University
Known for Cannabinoids
Scientific career
Institutions Clemson University

John William Huffman (born 1932) is a professor emeritus of organic chemistry at Clemson University who first synthesised novel cannabinoids.[1] His research, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, was focused on making a drug to target endocannabinoid receptors in the body.[2]

Cannabinoid research[edit]

Beginning in 1984, Huffman and his team of researchers began synthesizing cannabinoid compounds with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) properties for medical research purposes.[3] Over the course of twenty years, Huffman and his team developed over 400 synthetic cannabinoid compounds which were used as pharmacological tools to study endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptor genetics. Ultimately, the cannabinoid research provided better understanding of the physiological cannabinoid control system in the human body and brain and opened a path of "elucidating this natural regulatory mechanism in health and disease."[4]

In the late 2000s, two of Huffman's cannabinoid compounds began being sold in Germany as marijuana alternatives known as K2 and Spice. "I figured once it got started in Germany it was going to spread. I'm concerned that it could hurt people," Huffman said. "I think this was something that was more or less inevitable. It bothers me that people are so stupid as to use this stuff".[5] Huffman may have developed these compounds for scientific research, but now he gets blamed for its abuse.[6] As JWH-018 is more potent and easy to make, Huffman believes it is a more widely used synthetic cannabinoid of the JWH series.[7]

Law enforcement[edit]

More than half a dozen countries have banned herbal blends containing synthetic cannabinoids since 2008. Many countries also consider banning these mixtures. In the US, the states of Kansas, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and New York banned K2, herbal incense. JWH-018 is currently banned by controlled substances act.[7]

Law enforcement officials in Canada asked Huffman to serve as a consultant and expert witness. He received numerous media queries and requests for analytical help from law enforcement officials. Huffman also agreed to provide law officials continuous updates on the JWH advancements for future years to come.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Clemson University: Department of Chemistry: John W. Huffman". Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  2. ^ Brownstein, Joseph (March 17, 2010), K2 Giving People Another Dangerous Way to Get High, ABC News
  3. ^ Terrence McCoy. How this chemist unwittingly helped spawn the synthetic drug industry, The Washington Post, August 9, 2015.
  4. ^ Onaivi, Emmanuel S., et al. Endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptor genetics, Progress in Neurobiology, Volume 66, Issue 5, April 2002, Pages 307-344.
  5. ^ Michael Tatusov, Maryann Mazer-Amirshahi, Lewis Nelson, and Jesse Pines. 6 Things Every EP Needs to Know About K2/Spice & the Synthetic Cannabinoid Epidemic, Emergency Physicians Monthly, October 23, 2015.
  6. ^ Wiley, Jenny L., et al. Hijacking of Basic Research: The Case of Synthetic Cannabinoids, Methods Report (RTI Press), November 2011: 17971. doi:10.3768/rtipress.2011.op.0007.1111
  7. ^ a b c Wang, Linda (June 28, 2010). "John W. Huffman: Organic chemist invented a compound in 1995 that is now at the center of a controversy brewing over synthetic marijuana". Chemical & Engineering News. 88 (26): 43. Retrieved October 8, 2011.

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