The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a report Wednesday showing a nationwide increase in adverse health effects from the use of synthetic cannabinoids.
Between January and May 2015, United States Poison Control Centers in 48 states reported to the CDC they received a total of more than 3,500 calls related to synthetic cannabinoid use, a 229 percent increase from the 1,085 calls received during the same period in 2014.
The call centers also reported 15 synthetic marijuana-related deaths, a 300 percent increase from the death toll reported in 2014.
The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for June 12 discusses the increase and the adverse health effects associated with their use.
This use of synthetic drugs has been on the rise in Texas, where just last week, more than 60 Austin-area residents reportedly became sick after ingesting the synthetic drug commonly known as K2, according to a report in The Austin American-Statesman.
Synthetic cannabinoids include various psychoactive chemicals, or a mixture of such chemicals, similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredients in marijuana. The chemical compounds are sprayed onto plant material, and then smoked or ingested to achieve a “high.”
These products are known by a variety of names (e.g., synthetic marijuana, spice, K2, black mamba, and crazy clown) and are sometimes sold in retail outlets or on the internet as herbal products or incense.
The most commonly reported adverse health effects associated with synthetic cannabinoid use were agitation, tachycardia, drowsiness or lethargy, vomiting, and confusion.
Many of these symptoms were present last May in Dallas where police investigated a bad batch of synthetic marijuana that led to at least 40 reported cases of overdoses in just 48 hours.
The high number of cases prompted the Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate.
The CDC is suggesting a need for enhanced efforts to remove these products from the marketplace. People who have these products in their home are encouraged to dispose of them in a trash can that is not accessible to pets or young children.
Eric Brown’s son, Montana, died about a year-and-a-half ago at the age of 15. Montana had experimented with a synthetic drug he thought was LSD, his father said.
Brown worked with Texas legislators this session to get bills passed, banning all synthetics and strengthening other laws.
“I feel like if it could happen to my family, in my neighborhood, as vigilant as I feel like I was, it could happen to anyone. Just soul searching, …Read More