A new study on synthetic marijuana states that products like K2 incense and Spice are sending more teens and young adults to the hospital, some in a catatonic state.
The study, published in the March 19 issue of Pediatrics, also says there were 4,500 calls made to poison control centers in 2010 and 2011 about the effects of fake pot.
This past February, two teens were taken from Westfield SouthPark mall to the hospital after they reportedly overdosed on a synthetic marijuana product.
In April of 2011, a teenage girl told paramedics she felt like she was “dead and in a dream” after smoking fake pot.
Owners of a local store were charged with aggravated drug trafficking after chemical analysis showed that they were selling products that contained banned chemicals used in synthetic marijuana.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration banned the five chemicals found in synthetic marijuana in early 2011 last year, citing health concerns about the side effects and growing reports from emergency rooms about convulsions, shortness of breath, anxiety attacks, nausea/vomiting, elevated heart rates, seizures, prolonged migranes, disorientation and high rates of addiction.
However, new substances with similar chemicals quickly replaced the old brands to circumvent the specific bans. “When the DEA banned those five chemicals, the people who make this stuff were already geared up to replace it,” Police Chief Charles Goss told Strongsville Patch. “They never missed a beat in having new stock ready.”
A common misconception that synthetic marijuana products do not show up in drug tests, however as time passes more and more diagnostic companies are producing synthetic marijuana drug testing kits that test for these substances, with a similar accuracy to drug tests for marijuana.
However, this also means that when someone goes to the hospital after overdosing on synthetic marijuana, it is more difficult for emergency room physicians to detect and offer proper treatment. According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, as little as 1 milligram (1 1,000 of a gram) of synthetic marijuana can be intoxicating, the new study found.
The blend is then sprayed with chemicals that render it toxic.
Unlike marijuana, where the plant itself causes a high, it’s the chemicals in K2 incense and other synthetic marijuana products that creates a high when smoked.
Linndale police last month raided Twilight Boutique near Strongsville, Ohio, after a test showed a product purchased there contained an analog of a chemical banned by the DEA.
Authorities confiscated 586 packets of herbal incense. Charges were filed against the store owners last week after new tests showed the other packs also contained illegal chemicals.