With names like K2,Spice, Bliss, and Cloud Nine, and hundreds of others, the drugs often called “synthetic marijuana”, are – in reality – very different from marijuana. They contain powerful chemicals called cannabimimetics and can cause dangerous health effects. The drugs are made specifically to be abused. A recent synthetic marijuana spike has caused some concern.
Like many other illegal drugs, synthetic marijuana is not tested for safety, and users don’t really know exactly what chemicals they are putting into their bodies.
These synthetic drugs can be extremely dangerous and addictive. Health effects from the drug can be life-threatening and can include:
- Severe agitation and anxiety.
- Fast, racing heartbeat and increased blood pressure.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Muscles spasms, seizures, and tremors.
- Intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes.
- Suicidal and other harmful thoughts and/or actions.
Poison center experts – as well as many federal, states, and local government officials – have called synthetic drug use a risk to the public’s health and a hazard to public safety.
In 2016, January through October 31th, poison centers received reports of 2,228 exposures to synthetic marijuana. In Missouri, the poison center has received 68 reports to these products. In the St Louis City area a new spike of K 2 exposures has been noted with one hospital treating 32 cases between November 4 to 11, 2016.
The harmful effects from these synthetic products were first reported in the U.S. in 2009. Since then, the drugs have spread throughout the country. The nation’s 55 poison centers received 2,668 calls about exposures to these drugs in 2013 and 3,680 exposures in 2014. In Missouri, 86 exposures were received in 2013 and 85 exposures in 2014.
What should you do if someone has used synthetic marijuana?
Call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222. Our specially trained nurses, pharmacists, and toxicologist can help you decide whether someone can be treated at home, or whether he or she must go to a hospital.
Dial 9-1-1 immediately if someone:
- Stops breathing.
- Has a seizure.
For more information, call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year for poisoning emergencies and for informational calls, too.