Health departments in Alabama, Mississippi, and New York issued strong warnings this month against the use of synthetic marijuana after surging numbers of users were rushed to hospitals with severe reactions to the drug. The sharp increase of synthetic marijuana overdoses in these states and others has resulted in about 1,000 reports to state poison control centers during the first three weeks of April. The count is nearly double the number reported from January through March. Experts speculate that the recent spike in severe reactions to spice may be the result of a new, more potent chemical structure, according to NPR.
Synthetic marijuana, also known as “spice,” can cause extreme anxiety, paranoia, and episodes of psychosis. Additionally, it has led to a number of deaths, a fact that many users are unaware of because the drug is widely perceived as a safe and legal alternative to marijuana.
Last year, the parents of a teen who died after smoking spice shared their son’s story to raise awareness about the serious dangers of the drug. In January, Kendrick Sneed, a soldier based at Fort Hood in Kileen, Texas, died due to “synthetic cannabinoid intoxication.” The drug is also linked to a death this month in Virginia and one in Louisiana. The total number of spice-related fatalities this year is unavailable.
While it is called synthetic marijuana, the drug doesn’t contain any cannabis, but is, instead, a mixture of dried plants laced with chemical additives. It is often packaged as potpourri, marked “not for human consumption,” and seen for sale on gas station shelves. The drug is challenging to regulate because, as specific formulations get banned, makers simply modify the molecular structure of the drug’s active ingredients.
Source: New York Times –