Addressing the challenges of New Psychoactive Substance detection within frontline environments

First published: 13/03/2019 | Last updated: March 28th, 2019

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Dr Oliver Sutcliffe

Senior Lecturer in Psychopharmaceutical Chemistry

Dr Oliver Sutcliffe has nineteen years research experience in pharmaceutical chemistry in both an academic and industrial environment.  He is the author of 15 international patents; 53 peer-reviewed publications and has presented at both national and international conferences in the fields of medicinal, pharmaceutical and forensic/analytical chemistries.  Dr Sutcliffe’s research interests lie principally in the synthesis, detection and quantification of new/emerging psychoactive substances used regularly on recreational drug market.  His recent work, with both national and international law enforcement, has focused on the synthesis and development of new technologies for the detection of drugs including synthetic cannabinoids (or Spice).

 

Web: http://www.sutcliffe-research.org



Synthetic cannabinoid (SCRA) such as Spice (or Mamba) is far less noticeable than cannabis and often undetectable by smell alone when mixed with tobacco. Additionally, SCRAs cannot be detected by screening tests for THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This presents challenges for drug detection by health, social care or criminal justice organisations. There are a number of specific drug screens for particular SCRAs but many new versions of Spice or Mamba may not be detected in simpler testing processes. This presentation outlines the current work by the Manchester Centre for the Study of Legal Highs (MCSLH) and the MANDRAKE team (MANchester DRug Analysis and Knowledge Exchange) in pioneering rapid, robust and cost-effective chemical analysis for harm-reduction/intelligence sharing within the Greater Manchester Region. The work involves MANDRAKE’S forensic laboratory and partnership working with key stakeholders in Greater Manchester, piloting innovative approaches to screening, detection and health promotion for among homeless, prisoner and health service user populations.

 

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Dr Oliver Sutcliffe