Synthetic Marijuana Hospitalizes 45 in Texas

During a 48-hour period over the weekend, 30 people in Dallas were admitted to local hospitals for reportedly overdosing on a synthetic marijuana product known as K2. The Austin Police Department (APD) told Breitbart Texas that an 15 additional individuals were admitted for K2 overdoses during the same time period in the state's capital, which over 200 miles away from Dallas. 

An APD spokesman told Breitbart Texas there is an ongoing investigation into the most recent string of what he called "overdoses." He said, "This is the first time we've seen synthetic marijuana overdoses in 'mass' quantities like this. We need to figure out where this stuff is coming from." 

"Officers have arrested some of the people who they suspect have some of the substance on them," the spokesman added. "But as far as distribution goes, I haven't heard of any developments yet. If the individuals checked into the hospital had the substance on them we might issue a warrant for them, but first and foremost we want to get medical issues taken care of."

He concluded, "Almost every drug has a design aspect to it--I don't think the desired affect is working correctly in K2.  I would suggest that if you're thinking about trying this drug, stay away from it." 

Dr. James E'tienne, an emergency physician at Baylor University Medical Center, told Dallas media outlet WFAA-TV, "Several of [the patients] came in with similar symptoms of psychosis, altered mental status, abnormal behavior--ranged from very sedated to an agitated state." 

K2 has historically been known to make users violent and cause seizures. In 2011, three Texas teens allegedly died from heart attacks after smoking it. 

At this point, it is likely-although not confirmed-that those admitted last weekend all smoked the same batch of K2. 

Forbes reporter David Kroll wrote that the synthetic drug products are "not marijuana but rather herbs that are sprayed with solutions containing one or more research chemicals that bind to the same brain receptors as the active constituents in marijuana, or cannabis. For this reason, they are more properly called synthetic cannabinoids. They continue to be sold under names such as K2, Spice, and Gorilla Dro Po-Po, among others...The risks of these products are related to the fact that they have more intense effects and lack the constellation of psychoactive and calming chemicals naturally present in cannabis."

Kroll added that synthetic marijuana has historically been popular among active military personnel, as well as people on probation. K2 can apparently give these individuals a similar effect as smoking marijuana, but is not traceable in urinary drug tests. 

Synthetic marijuana is a problem that has been addressed by Texans in the past, but the latest incident likely marks the first string of "mass" hospitalizations due to K2. 

In early April, Breitbart Texas reported on an effort by Lubbock city officials to expand a ban on synthetic marijuana. Critics, however, argue that the proposed rules would not be effective or enforceable. 

Follow Kristin on Twitter @KristinBTate


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