Synthetic Marijuana Responsible for Overdoses in US
In August 2018, 71 people in New Haven, CT overdosed from synthetic marijuana. Over a two-week period in July more than 300 people overdosed from it in Washington, DC. In Chicago, there were 56 overdoses in April. Brooklyn has seen hundreds of zombie-like synthetic overdoses over the last couple of months. Synthetic marijuana, also called fake weed, K2, Spice, Kronic and many other names is what is causing overdoses across the country. It is also the second most popular drug among high school kids.
Synthetic Marijuana Defined
Synthetic marijuana is not marijuana at all but is manufactured to mimic its effects. It is plant materials sprayed with psychoactive chemicals that are manufactured to to be like THC found naturally in marijuana. Due to the mixture of chemicals used, spice is unpredictable and can vary widely from batch-to-batch. It’s the chemicals that make spice such a dangerous drug. There are no standards for making synthetic chemicals so there is no way of knowing what are how much has been sprayed on the plant material, making it so no two packets are exactly the same. The effects of synthetics are 100 times more powerful than marijuana and remain in the body for much longer. It is most commonly smoked or vaped but can also be added to food and eaten.
Manufacturing and Distribution
Spice, K2 and other brands of synthetics are packaged in colorful wrappers, often with cartoon characters to appeal to teens and younger users. They are typically found in convenience stores, smoke shops, gas stations or vape stores. Synthetics have been banned by the DEA but new variations are constantly being made and as fast as the DEA identifies the chemicals, new ones are introduced. The chemicals used to make the drug mostly come from China, India and Mexico. The largest production labs are in Miami, Dallas and New York City.
The Effects of Synthetics
Because the chemicals found on synthetics varies so much the effects are unpredictable and just as varied. They are a psychoactive drug so they cause an altered mind state. The most common side effects are: agitation, lethargy, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, confusion, panic attacks and zombie-like states. Depending on the chemicals many users experience extreme aggression, self-harming, suicidal thoughts and behaviors and violence towards others. It is very easy to overdose on synthetics because the drug is so random. It is highly addictive and regular users experience intense withdrawal symptoms.
The Recent Boost in Overdoses Linked to Laced Spice
Over the last 4 months there has been a huge uptick in the number of overdoses from spice. If EMTs get called out to treat an overdose it is not uncommon for there to be multiple people in one location that have overdosed. What the DEA and other health officials have found is that in these cases the spice was laced with brodifacoum, a long-lasting anti-coagulant found in rat poison. Rat poison is frequently mixed with street drugs to make the effects last longer. However, it interferes with the body’s ability in blood clotting and causes life-threatening bleeding. The effects last a long time are extremely difficult to reverse. Symptoms of someone who has taken spice laced with brodifacoum include: easy bruising, blood in urine, bloody nose, bleeding gums, coughing up blood and blood coming from ears and eyes. Blood can come from any part of the body and death is the result from internal bleeding that can not be stopped. The overdoses seen in Chicago, Washington DC and New York all had signs of being sprayed with rat poison.
Our Hyper-Competitive Society
Synthetics are sold as natural, safe and legal alternatives to marijuana but they are extremely dangerous. They are made with varying and unsafe chemicals and effects can be widely unpredictable. There is literally no way to know what will happen when they are smoked, and each packet can be different even ones with the same label.
If you think someone you know is abusing drugs or alcohol, contact National Screening Centers in Houston, they provide drug analysis to give you results that are 100% accurate. They are performed at our convenient locations and results are delivered quickly. For more information visit National Screening Centers for our location and hours.