Synthetic weed, also known as K2, is likely the cause of 25 people being rushed to the emergency room in Brooklyn, New York. Over the course of several hours Saturday night, patients began arriving at the hospital after having an adverse reaction to the drug.
According to a CNN report, city police are investigating the area of Brooklyn where the synthetic weed was likely purchased. Lt. Paul Ng, with the New York Police Department, said they have officers on the street looking for additional victims and drug dealers that may be connected. While it is strongly suspected, investigators cannot say for certain it was fake marijuana that caused the illnesses.
So far, no one has died, but some victims are still in the hospital “under observation.” Many of the patients have since recovered and were released this morning.
A similar incident involving synthetic marijuana occurred in Brooklyn in July 2016. During an 11-hour period, 33 people were admitted to the hospital for respiratory problems and delusional mental states after overdosing on the drug. A few weeks later in the exact same area, a separate occurrence sent 100 people to the emergency room.
Synthetic weed has been a problem not only in New York but in other areas of the country as well. Last month, in Chicago, over 150 people were treated for unexplained bleeding, mainly from the mouth and nose, after using fake cannabis. In those cases, investigators found the drug had been tainted with rat poison.
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, experienced a similar outbreak of illness from synthetic pot in 2017. In three days’ time, over 100 people overdosed on the drug.
Even though the drug is often called synthetic marijuana, it actually does not contain the plant. It is manufactured by taking dried plant material then spraying it with a variety of human-made chemicals. These chemicals are continually changing depending on who is making it and are generally never known to the end user.
The chemicals are supposed to give the user a similar type high experienced by marijuana smokers. However, the drug has been deemed far more dangerous than cannabis.
Per an ABC News report, the effects of using synthetic marijuana are considered “unpredictable” and “life-threatening” by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The agency sent warning letters earlier this year to the states of Wisconsin, Indiana, Maryland, and Illinois about the potential dangers of fake weed.