An outbreak of synthetic marijuana, starting in Chicago and fanning out in Illinois, has caused more than 50 cases of serious bleeding–including two deaths–and those numbers are rising.
“This is the first time we’ve seen an outbreak of this magnitude in the area,” Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health, announces.
Its effects can be up to 10 times more intense than marijuana; as a result, it’s more dangerous. And its long-term effects on the brain and body are still unknown.
“Synthetic cannabinoids have been touted as ‘safe, legal’ alternatives to marijuana and other illicit substances, but they are neither,” says Gateway Lake Villa Executive Director Karen Wolownik-Albert. “Patients in treatment who are withdrawing from these unknown chemicals experience extreme agitation, language and perceptual disturbances, paranoia, hallucinations, and significant physical discomfort.”
What is synthetic marijuana?
Synthetic marijuana, often referred to as K2, consists of human-made chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material and smoked, or liquids that are vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices.
What are the signs?
- Feeling lightheaded and having trouble walking
- Agitation, confusion, paranoia, and panic attacks
- Rapid heart rate and over-stimulation of the central nervous system
What should you do?
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.