Two dead due to contaminated synthetic pot

Credit Scharle  Creative Commons

A synthetic chemical similar to marijuana has led to two deaths and dozens of cases of severe bleeding in IL, according to officials .

Officials have been struggling to identify where the contaminated synthetic pot is coming from, and warn that it may be available across the state. She noted that out of everyone tested, nine tested positive for an anticoagulant called brodifacoum, often used in rat poison.

Two people in Illinois have died after using synthetic cannabinoids, and the number of other users experiencing severe bleeding has continued to rise, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

All of the cases required hospitalization related to coughing up blood, blood in the urine, bloody nose, bleeding gums and other symptoms.

Synthetic cannabinoids - also commonly referred to as Spice, K2 or fake weed - are found in convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops and novelty stores, and are purchased online.

The Cook County sheriff's office is working with state officials to identify the source of the synthetic marijuana associated with the outbreak, said spokeswoman Cara Smith.

Illinois State Police and Chicago Police allegedly traced several of the cases to King Mini Mart in Lawndale, according to the Chicago Tribune.

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The fake weed problem in IL only worsens.

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

During that time, physicians treated 456 patients total for synthetic cannabinoid intoxications.

The number of acute poisonings from synthetic cannabinoids rose sharply between 2010 and 2015, according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016.

The U.S. National Institute of Drug Abuse website Drugabuse.gov says that "synthetic cannabinoids are human-made mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices".

"These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they act on the same brain cell receptors as the main active ingredient in marijuana", IDPH explained, warning that the drug's impact can be life-threatening.

"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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