Second Death Due to Synthetic Cannabinoids

Credit Scharls  Creative Commons

Emergency rooms in IL are noticing a spike in synthetic pot users suffering from "severe bleeding", and state health officials are warning the public to remain vigilant.

Health officials warn that anyone who has a reaction to synthetic cannabinoids should call 911 immediately or go to an emergency department. It is frequently sold at convenience stores and gas stations with names like Blue Giant, Crazy Monkey and Matrix, according to federal charges.

Three cases tested positive for brodifacoum, or rat poison, according to a statement from the Illinois Department of Public Health on Saturday.

Synthetic cannabinoids, often called Spice or K2, are linked to cases of bleeding that have resulted in at least two deaths in the state of IL.

All of the cases required hospitalization related to coughing up blood, blood in the urine, bloody nose, bleeding gums and other symptoms. Synthetic cannabinoids are found across IL and the U.S.in convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, and online.

Among the 56 IL cases reported as of Monday, 54 were reported from Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kankakee, McLean, Peoria, Tazewell and Will counties, and two cases are under investigation.

"Despite the perception that synthetic cannabinoids are safe and a legal alternative to marijuana, many are illegal and can cause severe illness", IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah said in a statement earlier this week. Official are now working to try to identify any common products and determine where they were obtained.

There's not much information about the synthetic marijuana death, and Arnold said there won't be in order to protect the victim's identity. There have been 10 additional cases in the collar counties and more than two dozen in downstate IL.

The fake weed problem in IL only worsens.

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"This is the first time we've seen an outbreak of this magnitude in the area", she was quoted by the Fox affiliate as saying. "We're doing whatever we can with regards to outreach to notify any who may be impacted by this outbreak". None of those cases was fatal.

Arnold said that the Centers for Disease Control are sending epidemiologists to help in the investigation. "However, synthetic cannabinoids are unregulated and identifying a source or sources is hard".

In November 2016, about 300 people in St. Louis were hospitalized from overdoses of synthetic versions of THC.

Synthetic cannabinoids are man-made, mind altering chemicals that are sprayed onto plant matter, according to IDPH, which can then be smoked or inhaled with a vaporizer.

While the substances are often marketed as a safe and legal alternative to marijuana, US officials say that they "affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana", and "their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, more unsafe or even life-threatening".

These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are similar to chemicals found in the marijuana plant.

In the 1980s, synthetic cannabinoids were considered research compounds but they are now produced overseas, according to the CDC. Tell your health care providers about the possible link between your symptoms and synthetic cannabinoid use.

"They include things like seizures, heart attack, kidney failure", said Lank, who was not involved in the recent synthetic cannabinoid cases.

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