SANTA ROSA -- Redwood Toxicology, a division of  Massachusetts-based Alere Toxicology, is expanding its drug-testing services to cover new "legal" highs from synthetic cannabinoids.

Redwood Toxicology today announced it has enhanced its existing synthetic-cannabinoid urine test for JWH-018 and JWH-073 with the addition of four new active compounds in synthetic marijuana: AM-2201, RCS-4, JWH-081 and JWH-250.

“To identify the ever-changing compounds and their metabolites, substance abuse testing laboratories must be determined to research and develop new test methods,” said Sumandeep Rana,  scientific director. “At RTL, we are extremely dedicated to examining substance abuse trends and synthetic drug production. Our goal is to continually empower our clients by providing advanced testing solutions that drive better detection, diagnosis, and healthcare.”

The lab claims to be the first to offer testing for JWH-018 and JWH-073, which are two of the five synthetic cannabinoids banned by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Redwood Toxicology continues to observe these substances during analysis, but designer-drug chemists have attempted to circumvent the DEA’s bans by developing new substances that contain compounds with similar chemical structures, according to the lab.

Four chemicals gaining prevalence as active ingredients in newer-generation synthetic marijuana products are AM-2201, RCS-4, JWH-081 and JWH-250, according to Redwood Toxicology.

Alone or in combination, they can be found in drugs with street names such as Syn, K3 Legal, Haze, Cloud Nine, Mr. Miyagi Zero, Tyranny Green and Warped. Because these chemicals are not yet federally regulated, they appeal to chemists who may include them in herbal blends, according to the lab.

Synthetic drugs are an increasing concern for emergency rooms and poison control centers around the nation. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the number of human-exposure calls related to synthetic cannabinoids the first 10 months of this year increased 97 percent from 2010.

Targeted at criminal justice and drug rehabilitation clients, Redwood Toxicology's expanded six-compound test panel combines liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry to confirm the presence of parent compounds and their metabolites in urine.